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GOP files response to claim of discrimination by former employee
Gainesville woman seeks back pay job reinstatement, damages and attorney's fees
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A Gainesville woman’s lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the Georgia Republican Party is moving forward, with the party responding to the accusations, according to court records.

Qiana Keith claims she experienced discrimination while working as the executive assistant to the state GOP chairman. In her original complaint filed in July, she alleges she heard racial slurs about her and was treated differently because she is a black woman.

Filed Sept. 18 in United States District Court, the two sides lay out their claims in the suit. The defendants in the case, the Georgia Republican Party and Chairman John Padgett, claim Keith exhibited poor job performance since she was hired in June 2013.

“Callers complained about her lack of telephone manners, and she often was not at her desk because she was late or left early ...” the defendants’ response reads.

Keith was fired on April 1, the defendants claiming poor job performance. Keith claims it was a result of complaints regarding racial discrimination.

The nearness of the Nov. 4 elections, the defendants wrote, would require more time for the discovery of evidence.

“Defendants believe that an extended discovery period is needed due to the amount of discovery outlined by both parties and the difficulties of completing that discovery in the midst of the upcoming November elections,” according to court records.

Records indicated a “possibility of settlement before discovery,” and legal counsel on both sides intend to hold additional settlement conferences before the end of the discovery period. A jury trial has also been demanded.

In Keith’s list of persons with potential knowledge relevant to the case, Republican Senate candidate David Perdue, former Gov. Sonny Perdue and U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta, are included among other GOP personnel.

The case is set for a four-month discovery period, in which evidence is gathered for the lawsuit, according to court records. Keith seeks back pay, job reinstatement, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

In earlier filings, Keith claimed the party’s accounting director told her she was acting like a “Queen Bee,” was overheard referring to Keith with racial slurs, and started a dispute with her over parking spaces that continued even when Keith stopped using the parking space in question.

Keith also had alleged she was denied privileges offered to other employees, was denied tasks usually assigned to the chairman’s assistant — sometimes in favor of white employees — and was told during an event she had “made a mistake” when she sat a black party member at the same table as the chairman.

Keith said she complained to her supervisor about “rampant racist comments,” but that the complaints were ignored and she was fired for poor performance a few weeks later.

In a response filed in August, the party denied all accusations of discriminatory treatment.

The response said the party “den(ies) that they engaged in any conduct that would subject them to liability or which entitles Plaintiffs to any remedies or relief of any kind.”

The response also denied that the party “committed any unlawful or wrongful acts.”

The party admitted to some of the facts set forth in the suit, such as the date Keith began work with the party and the name of her supervisor, but denied every allegation of discriminatory treatment or the use of racial slurs.

The response denied the allegations that a racially charged parking dispute took place, admitting only that Keith spoke with an employee about her parking space.

The response also hinted that the emails Keith sent to her supervisor complaining of discriminatory treatment contained inappropriate comments, saying, “the ... emails speak for themselves, and Plaintiff has selectively quoted and added to the portion of the email provided.”

In some cases, such as an allegation that Keith received an email from an unidentified co-worker about the spot, the party said it doesn’t have enough information to either confirm or deny, but the response is mostly denial of allegations.

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