WASHINGTON — A Michigan lawmaker on Tuesday placed a top aide on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by former female aides.
Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence placed Chief of Staff Dwayne Duron Marshall on leave following a Politico report detailing allegations of inappropriate behavior. Several of the former aides said they’d brought their concerns to Lawrence.
In a statement, Lawrence said she had never received any sexual harassment complaints from staff members. Lawrence is a former harassment complaint investigator who recently introduced legislation to require such training for congressional staff.
“As in any office environment, there have been occasions when employees have brought workplace concerns to my attention and those concerns were promptly addressed,” Lawrence said. “However, none of the concerns brought to my attention involved allegations of sexual harassment — behavior that I will not tolerate. Had I been made aware of any concerns about sexual harassment in my office, those concerns would have been promptly investigated and appropriate disciplinary action taken, including termination of employment of any individual engaged in sexually harassing behavior.”
Marshall, in a statement, vehemently denied the allegations.
“In my 28 years of public service, I have never had any kind of complaint filed against me nor have I ever sexually harassed anyone!” Marshall said. “Despite these slanderous accusations, I will continue to focus on working on behalf of the constituents in our district.”
Marshall pledged to continue to help Lawrence identify co-sponsors for her sexual harassment training bill.
The allegations come on the heels of recent reports of sexual harassment and gender hostility among staffers and even elected officials on Capitol Hill.
The former staff members told Politico that Marshall’s troubling behavior had ranged from inappropriate and disrespectful comments to unwanted touching. Several aides said they had personally told Lawrence that Marshall made them uncomfortable, and two cited his behavior as a reason for ultimately leaving the office.
Lawrence said in her statement that she “long ago” adopted written equal opportunity employment and anti-harassment policies, and encouraged any current or former staffers to come forward with reports of inappropriate sexual behavior or contact. Lawrence also pledged to complete a thorough investigation into the allegations, as well as conduct an assessment of the environment of her office.