Former Aides Accuse Dem Rep. Of Ignoring Complaints About Top Staffer

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 27: Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., speaks at a news conference in the Capitol to call for aid for the Flint water crisis be included in the government funding bill, September 27, 2016. Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., also appear. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
Tom Williams/CQPHO

Three former aides to Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) told Politico that the congresswoman ignored complaints from them about her chief of staff’s treatment of women.

The three unnamed ex-staffers, who are all women, told Politico that they did not use the term “sexual harassment” when speaking to Lawrence about their concerns, but said that they told the congresswoman that women in the office were not comfortable around Dwayne Duron Marshall and that he treated women differently than he did male staffers. One aide told Politico that she told the congresswoman about “inappropriate” comments and physical contact from Marshall. The aides said that Marshall often commented on female staffers’ appearance, and one aide said that Marshall would come up behind her and start rubbing her shoulders, per Politico.

Lawrence denied to Politico that she received any sexual harassment complaints, but she said that she did attempt to address concerns about “management-style issues” with “individual personnel actions.”

“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.”

Lawrence is a former sexual harassment complaint investigator and recently introduced legislation to require staffers in Congress to take a sexual harassment training course.

Read Politico’s full report here.