Rep. Brenda Lawrence kept aide on payroll despite harassment claims: report

Rep. Brenda Lawrence kept aide on payroll despite harassment claims: report
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Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceDem lawmaker says Trump administration has kicked ethics standards 'to the curb' Dem lawmaker calls for investigation of Fairfax over assault allegations Dem responds to ‘trolls’ who said wearing white made female lawmakers look like nurses MORE (D-Mich.), who has offered legislation to require congressional staff to take an online course on sexual harassment, has retained her chief of staff despite complaints from former female staffers about his behavior, according to Politico.

In a story published early Tuesday, the news outlet cited three former female staffers who said they complained to Lawrence about the behavior of chief of staff Dwayne Duron Marshall. Two of the former staffers described unwelcome physical contact on the part of Marshall.

Lawrence in an interview with Politico denied any knowledge of sexual harassment accusations by her employees.

“I want to be very clear, very firm, that I had no knowledge of any allegations of sexual harassment in my office, and when I say none, I mean none,” Lawrence told Politico.

In a statement emailed to The Hill, Lawrence said none of the allegations she was made aware of included sexual harassment and that she would have taken “appropriate disciplinary action” to address any sexual harassment accusations.

“I welcome hearing directly from current or former employees regarding any concerns about inappropriate sexual conduct or behavior in my office,” Lawrence said. “These individuals can be assured that they will not be retaliated against for sharing this information.”

Marshall did not respond to emails from Politico seeking comment, according to the report. 

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One former employee of Lawrence’s described the congresswoman as “complicit."

“She knows he makes comments,” the former staffer told Politico, referencing Lawrence’s alleged knowledge of Marshall’s behavior.

“She knows he rubs the back and rubs the shoulders … She’d say, ‘I know there are some problems, but he has his good points too,’ and ‘[the good] outweighs the other stuff.’ ”

The report comes after Lawrence, who previously conducted Equal Opportunity Employment probes, late last month appeared on ABC’s “This Week” promoting legislation to make sexual harassment training a requirement on Capitol Hill.

“And if we are making sexual harassment training optional, then what are we saying as an organization?” Lawrence said during the appearance. “Because we require all federal employees, it's mandatory, but on the Hill and the Capitol, it's optional. So, this is the first step of setting the tone of zero tolerance for sexual harassment."