Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., has placed her chief of staff, Dwayne Duron Marshall, on administrative leave following reports that he treated multiple female staffers inappropriately.
Lawrence, a former harassment complaint investigator for the federal government who is now leading House efforts to educate the public on how to prevent sexual assault, will keep Marshall on payroll despite the allegations.
"I have requested the assistance of House and outside independent management resources to investigate and assess the current environment of my office so that I can take appropriate corrective action as necessary. The chief of staff has been placed on administrative leave pending results of the investigation. I will continue to fight for an environment free from sexual harassment and my commitment has not wavered," Lawrence said in a statement.
Three women told Politico they made formal complaints to Lawrence about Marshall's behavior while they worked in her office. Marshall has worked for Lawrence since 2014. One woman said he made "inappropriate" comments and physical contact, and two said he was the reason they left their jobs.
Lawrence has denied that any former employee came to her about sexual harassment comments about Marshall, and insisted the matters were brought to her attention did not constitute sexual harassment.
"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. “I have had individual conversations with some of my employees when they had exit interviews. I’ve had one-on-ones, and we have discussed things in the office that they felt we could do better. I have implemented training and other positive forms of correction. ... But I have not, and I want to be very clear, have not ever, had an employee — former or present — talk to me about sexual harassment in my office.”
Marshall has 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. In fact, for the last 17 years of my career, I have directly represented women in the workplace. Despite these slanderous accusations, I will continue to focus on working on behalf of the constituents in our district," Marshall said.
Lawrence introduced the Congressional Sexual Harassment Training Act and Marshall said he will "continue working diligently to identify" cosponsors of the bill.