A University panel of arbitrators has taken the unusual step of ordering Harvard to rehire a staff assistant in the office of fiscal services who was dismissed last June for periodic lateness.
The binding decision of the three-member panel marks the end of a lengthy personnel grievance procedure but the ruling has apparently not been viewed as a broad indictment of the fiscal office's personnel procedures.
The panel of Harvard affiliates, which consisted of representatives of the employee and the University, and an impartial mediator, ruled that the lateness question was insufficient grounds to fire Pearl A. Croxton, a 10-year veteran of the fiscal office.
University officials contacted yesterday would not estimate how often Harvard has been forced to rehire a fired employee on a panel's recommendation.
"It doesn't happen very often," said Carolyn Young, the Harvard attorney who represented the University before the panel Complaints are usually settled before they reach the grievance panel stage, she explained.
Croxton based her complaint on the fact that lateness is hard to define in her office, where there are no time-clocks. She also claimed she had extenuating circumstances for the occasions on which she was late.
Young maintained that the decisions's effect is not far-reaching, saying that it essentially served only to give Croxton "a second chance."
Although the University lost on the rehiring issue. Young said the ruling "also made clear that the tardiness policy is binding."
Judy Drake, Croxton's attorney in the grievance, would not comment on whether Croxton's victory has far reaching implications, saying only. "The primary thing was that Pearl be reinstated that was my main concern."
Croxton, who is Black, said last June that in addition to filing the in house grievance, she would register a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), charging racial and sexual discrimination.
Drake refused to say if a discrimination complaint is pending with the EEOC, or of
Croxton intended to continue any other complaints against the University. Following EEOC policy, Thomas L. Saltonstall, director of the commission's Boston office, refused to comment on whether a complaint is pending.
Croxton was fired by the office of fiscal services on June 11. Since that time her complaint has moved through a series of steps, following Harvard's personnel policy, beginning with a formal letter of grievance, and culminating with the three-member panel