Chief of staff to congresswoman placed on leave following sexual harassment claims

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, a Michigan Democrat, speaks at a news conference in the Capitol to call for aid for the Flint water crisis be included in the government funding bill, in September 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Story highlights

  • Rep. Brenda Lawrence wrote proposed legislation on sexual harassment
  • Unidentified former employees have accused her chief of staff of harassment

(CNN)Michigan Democratic Rep. Brenda Lawrence has placed her chief of staff on administrative leave following accusations of sexual harassment by former staffers in her office.

"It is unfortunate that I am just learning of these allegations by unidentified former employees for the first time," Lawrence said Tuesday in a statement to CNN. "My office will nonetheless take all necessary steps to root out and address any inappropriate behavior."
On Tuesday, Politico published allegations made against Lawrence's chief of staff, Duron Marshall, with accounts from three former female staffers about his treatment of women within the office. In a statement provided to Politico, Marshall denied the allegations, saying he has "never had any kind of complaint filed against me nor have I ever sexually harassed anyone!" CNN has reached out to Marshall for comment and has not yet received a response.
    Lawrence in a statement Tuesday says there were occasions where employees brought workplace concerns to her attention, but she was not aware of allegations of sexual harassment.
    "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," she said.
    Marshall will be on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation that Lawrence has launched, requesting additional House and outside independent management resources. Lawrence's office did not provide additional details on what that investigation would entail.
    Lawrence herself is the author of one of many pieces of legislation being proposed on Capitol Hill to boost up sexual harassment training within Capitol Hill offices. Just two weeks ago, she introduced the Congressional Sexual Harassment Training Act, which would require every congressional office to enroll employees in training to prevent sexual harassment.
    Sexual harassment training is currently not mandated in Congress. Each individual member's office may elect to voluntarily have their staff go through sexual harassment training offered by the Office of Compliance. It was not clear at the time this story was originally published whether Lawrence's office had participated in that training.