Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) accepted the resignation of one of her top aides Wednesday after it was revealed the California Department of Justice paid $400,000 to his former executive assistant to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit on his behalf last year.
Larry Wallace was a senior advisor in Harris’ Sacramento, Calif., office. Prior to her election to the U.S. Senate, Harris was the state attorney general, and Wallace served as director of the state DOJ’s Division of Law Enforcement. Danielle Hartley was the recipient of the May 2017 settlement, and her lawsuit accused Wallace of gender harassment and discrimination.
“We were unaware of this issue and take accusations of harassment extremely seriously,” Lily Adams, a spokeswoman for Harris, told the Los Angeles Times. She added that on Wednesday evening, “Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it.”
Hartley filed her lawsuit in December 2016, a month after Harris was elected to the Senate. In it, she alleged that Wallace put his office printer on the floor under his desk and then would ask her to replace either the ink or the paper in it on a daily basis, forcing her to be on her hands and knees while wearing a dress or a skirt in front of Wallace and other office staff.
“Many times, Wallace would ask her to put paper in the printer while he was sitting at his desk or with other male executives … in the room,” the lawsuit claimed.
Hartley also claimed Wallace forced her to do menial tasks such as washing his car or taking it for maintenance.
Her attorney, Jill P. Telfer, said the DOJ later subjected Hartley to an internal affairs investigation. She was transferred to other jobs that lacked meaningful work, and she was set up to fail in those jobs.
“The underlying issue was Wallace’s conduct, but the actions of the Department of Justice retaliating against Ms. Hartley and then attempting to cover up the harassment and retaliation rather than correct the behavior is what I find to be reprehensible,” Telfer said.
Per the settlement, Hartley was forced to resign from her job with the Department of Justice, and she is barred from being employed there ever again.