I-TEAM EXCLUSIVE: Why Senator Kamala Harris' senior aide resigned

A senior aide to California Senator Kamala Harris resigned Wednesday night after a gender discrimination lawsuit and $400,000 settlement surfaced. The I-Team has exclusive new details, after contacting the woman and her attorney.

We contacted the plaintiff, Danielle Hartley, in Southern California where she's starting a new life. She didn't want to speak on camera. She's glad to get this ordeal behind her.

Larry Wallace spent 14 years working for Kamala Harris as her deputy chief when she was San Francisco District Attorney, as her Director of Law Enforcement when she was Attorney General, and as her senior advisor when she became a U.S. Senator.

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I-Team Reporter Dan Noyes went to Sacramento to speak with the attorney who filed the lawsuit against Wallace on behalf of his former executive assistant, Danielle Hartley.

Jill Telfer told us, "Ms. Harris was the Attorney General when a lot of the actions were taken against my client."

The lawsuit says: Hartley asked Wallace to move his printer from the floor under his desk, "so she would not have to bend down on her knees under the desk in her dresses and skirts, but Wallace refused"; That he asked her to change the paper or ink on a daily basis; "Many times -- while he was sitting at the desk or with other male executives -- in the room."

Telfer says that was just the beginning: "After she complained though she was subjected to an internal affairs investigation which in my mind was frivolous, as well as being demoted and other things like that."

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The lawsuit says Wallace took away Hartley's meaningful tasks, made her book flights for his children, wash his car, and perform maintenance. When she returned to the office, Hartley claims co-workers would make hostile comments to her including, "Are you walking the walk of shame?"

The California Department of Justice denied "each and every allegation" in response to the lawsuit and paid Hartley $400,000 as part of a May 2017 settlement. It only came to light after the First Amendment Coalition out of San Rafael filed a Public Records Act Request.

Coalition attorney Glen Smith told the I-Team, "We were able to get access to an important document that otherwise no one would have known about."

Smith said the Department of Justice demanded a non-disclosure clause. Hartley would not be able to discuss the amount of the settlement or contact the media.

"Especially in the Me Too environment, sweeping these things under the rug so to speak I think allows the problem to fester," said Smith.

Senator Kamala Harris declined to be interviewed for this report, but her spokesperson emailed the I-Team that "she was never made aware of Ms. Hartley's complaints. ... Mr. Wallace offered his resignation to the senator and she accepted it."

The case settled after Kamala Harris became a senator. This summer, she co-sponsored the "Empowerment Act" to curb workplace harassment. Among the recommendations -- prohibiting non-disclosure clauses in these types of cases. We called Larry Wallace for comment but did not hear back.
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