Black Georgia GOP staffer who was fired scores partial win in court

Georgia GOP chair John Padgett. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

A federal judge allowed a key part of a racial discrimination lawsuit that’s hobbled the Georgia Republican Party to move forward, ruling that a former employee’s claims that she was improperly fired after she complained can go to trial.

U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell’s order on Tuesday clears the way for a jury trial in the long-running case involving Qiana Keith, the former staffer who sought punitive damages against the state party. The 2014 lawsuit has been an embarrassment for the state GOP, which has struggled to attract donors amid mounting legal bills.

Keith said in the 2014 lawsuit that she overheard co-workers refer to her with a racial slur and humiliate her while she was working as an executive assistant to GOP chair John Padgett. She contends she was fired after complaining about her co-workers’ behavior.

Pannell’s order found there was not enough evidence for a jury to conclude that Padgett created an “actionable hostile work environment” or prove that he was racially motivated when he fired Keith.

But it found there was enough evidence to let a second claim go that she was improperly fired in retaliation after she complained about her treatment in the office go to trial. The judge found the Georgia GOP’s “shifting reasons” for her firing enough evidence to let the complaint stand.

Keith attorney Kimberly Worth declined comment, and the Georgia GOP did not immediately return requests seeking comment.

Keith’s complaint and other legal problems have complicated the Georgia GOP’s fundraising ability. Recently-filed campaign finance reports show the state party finished January with $38,000 in the bank and $317,000 in debt, and some donors have said they refuse to help fund the party’s legal bills.

The party’s finances have dominated the debate to replace Padgett, who is not seeking another two-year term in June. The top four contenders for the seat all pledge to raise significant cash to revive the party’s financial health.


Reader Comments 0

7 comments
Atheists of Rome GA
Atheists of Rome GA

If you are a woman or you aren't white and you support the republican party, you are a complete idiot. Hopefully she learns from this experience.

Erik Moore
Erik Moore

Agreed - want to shoot yourself in the foot? Be my guest I suppose don't look to me for solace.

Kymberly Hartfield
Kymberly Hartfield

So she may not be able to show that he created a hostile work environment, but there is sufficient cause for her to present the case that she was fired in retaliation.

Atheists of Rome GA
Atheists of Rome GA

They can't change their behavior, even though they lie about it. It's only a matter of time before they self-destruct their own party because they can't keep up with the times.

Ken Wats
Ken Wats

Atheists of Rome GA What are the times. Trying to destroy the US.

Atheists of Rome GA
Atheists of Rome GA

No, getting with the times doesn't include trying to destroy the U.S. so it's about time republicans stop trying to do so. They been at it for years, and it will be their downfall.