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Harvard and the U. S. Department of Health. Education, and Welfare have settled their dispute over HEW's demand for wide-ranging access to University records.
An agreement reached this week permits HEW officials to view, under a series of safeguards, certain employee records in order to determine whether the University engages in discriminatory personnel practices.
The dispute arose early in April when HEW officials demanded to see all the files of wage and salary employees in order to determine whether the University was complying with provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act forbidding discrimination in employment practices. The officials also claimed they had the legal right to view "all University records," presumably including student files, and medical and psychiatric records.
Harvard followed its traditional policy of refusing Federal requests for access to University records, and a
month of intense negotiations between Harvard and HEW officials began. The talks ended in this week's agreement.
A source in the Harvard administration said the procedure will guarantee that HEW will look at only those files directly related to its investigations and outlined the agreed-upon procedure as follows:
The University will provide HEW with computer printouts containing basic data on employees filed by personnel number, not by name.
If after examining the printouts, HEW and Harvard officials agree that certain cases merit further examination. Harvard will let the Federal officials look at the employee's personnel record card. This card contains more information about an employee's hiring, time in grade, promotion, and dismissal, if any.
HEW officials will take notes from this card by number only to safeguard the employee in case the notes are lost or stolen. Then, if HEW still feels there is evidence of discrimination in the case. Harvard will require the employee's supervisor to discuss the case with the investigator.
If the supervisor's explanation does not satisfy HEW, the federal agency will then issue a formal complaint against Harvard, and the case will proceed through the hearing procedures defined by the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
A Harvard official stressed that, under the agreement:
HEW will have no access to files of students or to other University records such as psychiatric reports.
If an employee does not wish to discuss his case with HEW, the University will not require him to do so.
If an employee does wish to discuss his case with HEW, he is free to do so, as he has been in the past.
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