A former Georgia Republican Party aide filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that her colleagues discriminated against her because she was black, further claiming that one colleague called her a “house n***er.”
Qiana Keith alleged in the lawsuit, filed in federal court, that she was fired from her position as the executive assistant to state GOP Chairman John Padgett, who is white, because she complained about her colleagues’ racial discrimination.
The lawsuit describes an incident in which Keith overheard the party’s finance director, Margaret Poteet, complain about her to the party’s accounting director, Karen Hentschel. “Don’t worry about [Keith]; she is just the house n***er,” Hentschel allegedly told Poteet.
Keith overheard a separate conversation between Hentschel and Poteet that took place after the former aide informed Hentschel that the state of Montana, where Keith lived previously, would be garnishing her wages for restitution, according to the lawsuit. Poteet allegedly said “I didn’t even know there were black people in Montana.”
Keith was “humiliated” and “furious about the manner in which she was treated with respect to her garnishment and her co-workers’ racist comments about black people in Montana,” according to the lawsuit. She took her complaints to her supervisor, Adam Pipkin, in February and was fired weeks later for “purported performance issues.”
The lawsuit didn’t identify the races of Poteet, Hentschel or Pipkin, but it alleged that “Keith’s race set her apart from her co-workers, and she was treated differently throughout her employment.”
An attorney for the state Republican Party contested Keith’s version of events in a statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, arguing that the party made a full investigation of the former staffer’s claims and “found there was no merit to any of them.”
“The party and Chairman Padgett will vigorously defend themselves in court against these completely unfounded claims,” attorney Anne Lewis told the newspaper.
Read the suit below:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.