After a longtime aide of Democratic Senator Kamala Harris resigned on Wednesday after a local newspaper questioned him about a 2016 sexual harassment lawsuit, Harris has claimed that she was unaware of the issue when she employed him.
Larry Wallace — the aide — was asked by the Sacramento Bee about a sexual harassment lawsuit which was brought forth against the California Department of Justice in 2016. According to a report by USA TODAY, the lawsuit was settled for $400,000 in May 2017.
Per the report, the lawsuit was filed on December 30, 2016, by Larry Wallace’s former executive assistant, Danielle Hartley. At the time, he was working at the California Department of Justice under then-Attorney General Kamala Harris.
In an email response to USA TODAY, Ms. Kamala’s spokeswoman Lily Adams said that Kamala Harris was “unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously.”
“This evening, Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it.”
In the lawsuit, Ms. Hartley said that Wallace — who was a former Oakland police detective — allegedly harassed and demeaned her when she was working under him as his assistant, a tenure that she began in 2011, the report quoted the Sacramento Bee as stating.
Providing details of the harassment, Ms. Hartley said that Wallace had “placed his printer under his desk and would ask her to get on her hands and knees to replace the paper or the ink on a daily basis,” the USA TODAY report said.
Ms. Hartley further claimed that Wallace would often ask her to replace the paper in the presence of other male colleagues who were working in the Division of Law Enforcement, the Bee report detailed. She added that she requested Wallace to move the printer, but he refused.
According to a report by Splinter News, the lawsuit said that meaningful, job-related tasks were taken away from Hartley while working under Wallace and she was assigned to do his personal work, such as “booking flights for Wallace’s children, washing Wallace’s car, moving his car to the garage, and performing maintenance on his car.”
The lawsuit further added that when “Hartley would return from running these and other personal errands, co-workers would make hostile comments to her including, “Are you walking the walk of shame?” The lawsuit also stated that the Department of Justice was aware of the derogatory and discriminatory remarks that colleagues passed at Hartley, but no action was taken against them.
Hartley’s claims have been denied by the California Department of Justice, however, Harris’ successor Xavier Becerra settled the lawsuit on May 16, 2017, for $400,000. Hartley was asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement as part of the settlement and also agreed that she would not work for the Department of Justice again.
When Kamala Harris became a senator, Wallace was appointed as a senior adviser in her California office, the USA TODAY report said, adding that Harris — who might be running for the 2020 presidential election — has been a strong proponent of the #MeToo movement.
In June 2018, she introduced a bill to address workplace sexual harassment, “which included a ban on employers requiring workers to agree to non-disclosure clauses.”