Michigan lawmaker puts chief of staff on leave amid sexual harassment allegations

A congresswoman representing Michigan is at the center of a sexual harassment scandal after multiple women accused her chief-of-staff of inappropriate contact.

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence placed her top aide on administrative leave pending the results of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by former female aides.

Multiple woman who worked for her say they were subjected to inappropriate contact at work and accuse her of looking the other way. Three former female staff members her chief of staff, Dwayne Duron Marshall, say he made them feel uncomfortable with back rubs, shoulder rubs and inappropriate comments. 

Marshall denied the allegations, and the congresswoman denied any knowledge of any sexual harassment. In a statement to FOX 2, Marshall stated he's never sexually assaulted anyone.

"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!"

Marshall said that, for 17 years, he was a union rep and represented women in the workplace. In fact, he says that he makes all employees sign an employee manual outlining rules in the workplace and makes everyone take an anti-harassment training course, something the Congresswoman is working to be mandatory for congressional staffers.  

"In the workplace, it's just a handshake or a fist bump. Anything else is designed to make employees feel uncomfortable," said Jennifer Lord, a Michigan attorney who represents victims of sexual harassment.

In a statement to FOX 2, congresswoman Lawrence says that Mr. Marshall has been put on an administrative leave pending the results of her investigation. She says that she will continue to fight for an environment free of sexual harassment and her commitment has not wavered.

"Congress, who sets out Title VII and the laws that are supposed to protect workers from sexual harassment, from racial harassment, from discrimination, they've exempted themselves from those laws. These employees are essentially without a remedy that has any teeth," Lord said.

If the allegations are true, the Marshall could be fired but cannot be sued.

Congressman Lawrence has requested the assistance of House and outside independent management to investigate the situation.