Congresswoman suspends top aide amid harassment claims

Congresswoman suspends top aide amid harassment claims
© Greg Nash

Rep. Brenda LawrenceBrenda Lulenar LawrenceDemocratic congresswomen wear white to Trump's address in honor of suffrage movement House Democrat walks back remark favoring censure over impeachment Jane Fonda calls for protecting water resources at weekly DC climate protest MORE (D-Mich.) has put her chief of staff on administrative leave amid allegations from multiple former staffers that he sexually harassed them, The Detroit News reported Tuesday.

The move came after Politico reported that three female former aides for Lawrence said they told the congresswoman about her chief of staff Dwayne Duron Marshall's inappropriate behavior toward women. Two of those staffers said Marshall was the reason they left Lawrence's office.

According to The Detroit News, Lawrence said she is investigating the matter and would have done so earlier had the allegations been brought to her attention. But, she said, "none of the concerns brought to my attention involved allegations of sexual harassment.”

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“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 in a statement to The Detroit News.

“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.”

The former staffers who raised the issue of Marshall's behavior told Politico that they did not explicitly use the term "sexual harassment," but said that the issues they reported should have sparked concern with Lawrence.

Lawrence introduced legislation late last month that would require congressional staffers to undergo online sexual harassment training.

That piece of legislation and the subsequent allegations against Marshall come amid a wider national conversation about sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. In recent weeks, a growing number of high profile figures in business, media, entertainment and government have become the subjects of sexual harassment allegations.