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Guards Divide Over Bias

Charges Denied

By Joe Mathews, Crimson Staff Writer

Allegations of racial harassment made by seven former and current University security guards have sparked a controversy over how minorities are treated in the security division of the Harvard Police Department.

A host of University and police officials have denied the charges--including Vice President and General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54, Police Chief Paul E. Johnson, Assistant Director for Finance and Administration Brian D. Sinclair, Associate Director of Labor Relations Carolyn R. Young and Manager of Operations for Security Robert J. Dowling.

Chief Johnson said this week that security supervisors have been in structed to refer all questions to him. Steiner ahs not responded to repeated requests for phone interviews on this subject for the last two days. And University attorney Diane B. Patrick, who performed an investigation of the allegations, has refused comment.

"How could I, as a Black man, tolerate a racist supervisor?" said Johnson in an interview last month. "That wouldn't make any sense."

Many of the details of the various harassment charges are still sketchy. Some former and current security employees involved in incidents have not been reached for comment, and some guards speak only in generalities about the guard unit.

Many guards interviewed by The Crimson agreed to talk only after Chief Johnson and Dowling permitted them to do so last month.

Interviews with more than two dozen former and current guards conducted in the last month reveal sharp divisions within the guard unit over the issue of racial harassment.

Other guards say there is no harassment, andpraise Johnson and Dowling's management of thedepartment. Many others say that while there isracial tension in the department, they neverpersonally witnessed instances of harassment. Someof these guards add that racial tension has beenheightened because representatives of the ServiceEmployees International Union exaggerate theHarassment complaints.

Other guards say the problems of harassment areserious. These guards say supervisors usediscipline to retaliate against employees whocomplain about harassment. Fear of reprisals haskept other guards silent, some say.

All seven security guards who have chargedmistreatment say they were never interviewed byPatrick or anyone in the general counsel's officeconcerning an investigation.

In an interview Monday, Steiner would not saywhether the guards charging harassment wereinterviewed. He reiterated that Patrick'sinvestigation found the allegations to be withoutmerit.

A complaint by Yard guard Steven Thompson, whois Black, apparently prompted investigations bythe Office of Labor Relations and by the GeneralCounsel's office.

Security and union officials met with Thompsonand University attorney Patrick on September 12,1991. Patrick said she would investigate thecharges and get back to the union. Union businessagent Francis E. Fanning said Tuesday he was stillawaiting a response form Patrick.

In addition to Patrick's probe, Harvard'soffice of labor relations also conducted aninvestigation of Thompson's specific complaint.Thompson also said he was never interviewed by anyrepresentative of that office.

Carolyn R. Young, associate director of laborrelations, said she performed the investigationand found Thompson's complaint to be withoutmerit.

Black guard Pierre R. Voss last month said hewas racially harassed twice by Dowling and atleast 25 times by security supervisor DonaldBehenna.

Voss said Behenna cursed at him in front ofother employees and recalled a conversation inwhich Dowling said he would vote for former KuKlux Klan leader David Duke.

In addition, Voss said Behenna coerced him intowriting a letter saying the supervisor is not aracist in April 1991. Yesterday, Steven Thompsonconfirmed that he, too, had been pressured intowriting a similar letter by Behenna. It is notknown for what purpose the letters were solicited.

Chief Johnson last month acknowledged thatBehenna requested letters but said he did notpressure or coerce the guards.

Voss, who became a guard on January 26, 1991,originally made charges of racial harassment inmeetings with Dowling and Chief Johnson. He saidhis firing on July 23, 1991 was a retaliation forthose complaints.

Chief Johnson and Sinclair said Voss' chargesof harassment were not credible because he hadhistory of disciplinary problems.

Behenna said last month he is seeking legalcounsel and will not answer any questions from TheCrimson.

Voss filed a grievance with the ServiceEmployees International Union and a charge ofdiscrimination with the Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission.

The University reinstated him two weeks laterbecause of a technical oversight by securityofficials, Steiner said last month. Securityofficials mistakenly though Voss was fired duringhis probationary period--the first six months ofemployment during which a guard may be fired forany reason.

In denying the allegations made by Voss andHispanic former guard Rolando Diaz, Dowling saidhis record of minority hiring was exemplary.

"I hired these people," Dowling said. "Icertainly didn't hire them to harass them."

But Voss said Dowling did not hire him. Vosssaid he transferred into the security guard unitfrom a different job at the Fogg Museum--atransfer which did not require Dowling's approval.

In addition, Brian D. Sinclair '62, assistantdirector for finance and administration at thepolice department, acknowledged that policeofficials called in and questioned Voss five daysafter he told The Crimson he was raciallyharassed.

Voss, who is on disability leave, was askedonly about his health during the meeting, Sinclairsaid. In an interview, Voss said themeeting--which was attended by Sinclair, Johnsonand Dowling--was retaliation for his publiccomments.

Police officials denied the meeting constitutedretaliation, and Sinclair said he and Johnsonattended the meeting only because the Voss casewas now a "high profile issue."

Hispanic former guard Rolando Diaz, a citizenof El Salvador, said Behenna cursed at him,laughed at his questions, and occasionally madederogatory references to his ethnic background.Diaz also said Dowling fired him because of hisnational origin.

Dowling and Chief Johnson denied Diaz was everharassed. Both officials said he was fired becauseof his lack of proficiency in English. Fourcomplaints about Diaz, all dated from June 1989,indicate the guard had trouble on the job becauseof his English.

Diaz, who worked as a guard from January 25 toJune 22, 1989, filed a grievance with the serviceEmployees' International Union and a complaintwith the Massachusetts Commission Againstdiscrimination (MCAD). MCAD dismissed thecomplaint after what one official called a "verythorough investigation."

Questions remain about the circumstancessurrounding Diaz's firing. Diaz, union stewardRobert Travers and Diaz's ex-wife Karen McReadyall said Diaz did not have union representationwhen he was fired.

Former University attorney Edward Powers said aJune 6 meeting between Travers and Dowling--duringwhich Diaz's problems with English werediscussed--constituted union representation.

Travers, who is also a guard, said he wasreturning to the guard office at the end of hisshift to turn in his radio when Dowling spoke tohim. Travers said he did not believe he wasrepresenting Diaz.

McReady also said she met with Dowling on June8, 1989, two weeks before her husband was fired.According to McReady, Dowling told her he mightfind Diaz a job somewhere in the University wherehe could "be with his own kind."

Travers said Dowling made the same statement tohim during the June 6 meeting. Last month, Dowlingdenied ever making the comment.

In a February 13, 1990 decision on Diaz's uniongrievance, Powers ruled that Diaz had sufficientunion representation and said McReady's andTravers' accounts of conversations with Dowlingwere not credible. McReady disputed that, sayingshe never spoke with Powers and was not allowedinto the January 1990 hearing.

Reached at his MIT office last week, Powerssaid he could not recall the details of the case.

Another guard, a Russian citizen who asked notto be named because he said he is a politicalrefugee, last month said security supervisorThomas Henaghan harassed him "almost every day"for the past two years.

Henaghan last month said he never harassed theguard. He said the guard warranted closesupervision because the guard had a history ofbeing out of uniform, away from his post andsleeping on the job.

The Russian guard said he sent a letter onmarch 11 of this year to Chief Johnson sayingHenaghan harassed him on numerous occasions.

According to documents obtained by The Crimson,the guard was suspended for three days in Apriland warned that further infractions of departmentrules would result in permanent dismissal.

In suspending the guard, the department said helied in a hearing to probe the incident of allegedharassment. The guard was also out of uniform atthe time, the department said, another factorresulting in suspension.

The guard said the suspension was retaliationfor the March 11 complaint of harassment. Theguard also said Dowling maintains an atmosphere inthe department where bigotry and ethnicallymotivated harassment are tolerated.

Dowling, Sinclair and Chief Johnson have deniedsuch charges.

Sinclair confirmed last month that thedepartment investigated a sexual harassmentcomplaint made by Kennedy School guard JacquelynnLeonard in 1990.

In a grievance dated November 8, 1990, Leonardsaid security supervisor Thomas Henaghan"discriminated against me on a gender basis" and"harassed me on a racial basis."

On one occasion, Henaghan allegedly toldLeonard, who is Asian-American, not to answer aphone call in the security office. "No, you can'tanswer that. You're a woman. They'll hang up onyou," he said, according to the grievance.

Sinclair said Leonard and Henaghan met todiscuss the matter, and Leonard said she has nothad any other problems with the supervisor.

Sinclair said Henaghan denied Leonard's chargesof harassment in 1990. An investigation could notcorroborate either Henaghan's or Leonard'saccount, he said.

In an interview, Leonard said Henaghan tried toretaliate against her for making the harassmentcomplaint. "He put down that I was late when Iwasn't," said Leonard. "He was retaliatory."

Sinclair said those instances of tardiness wereremoved from Leonard's record, and denies theyconstituted retaliation.

"It was a misunderstanding," he said. "If wehad thought it was retaliation, we would havetaken very strong steps."

Another Black guard, who asked not to be namedbecause he said he feared reprisals, said Behennahounded him unnecessarily while at this post andbelittled him during conversations. The guard alsorecounted an alleged April incident in which awhite guard used the word "nigger" in front of theBlack guard and a supervisor.

"[The white guard] said, `You see you niggersgetting your asses kicked in L.A. One reason wehave so many problems in this department is youpeople," said the guard.

Former Black Harvard security guard RodneyJohnson, now a guard at a local bank, said he sawracism in the discipline, promotion and day-to-daytreatment of minority guards while he worked atHarvard between 1978 and 1988.

Johnson also said the department refused torehire him in 1988 after he quit to apply for apost in MIT police department. Rodney Johnson saidChief Johnson had promised him a job when hereturned.

Chief Johnson denied that charge this week,saying Johnson left the unit without notice andhad a record of absences and problems. Sinclairalso denied that the department discriminatedagainst Johnson.

Yvonne Geeve, manager of the Medical School'sVanderbilt Hall--where Johnson was posted, saidthis week that Johnson never presented a problem."He's someone we would welcome back," Geeve said

Other guards say there is no harassment, andpraise Johnson and Dowling's management of thedepartment. Many others say that while there isracial tension in the department, they neverpersonally witnessed instances of harassment. Someof these guards add that racial tension has beenheightened because representatives of the ServiceEmployees International Union exaggerate theHarassment complaints.

Other guards say the problems of harassment areserious. These guards say supervisors usediscipline to retaliate against employees whocomplain about harassment. Fear of reprisals haskept other guards silent, some say.

All seven security guards who have chargedmistreatment say they were never interviewed byPatrick or anyone in the general counsel's officeconcerning an investigation.

In an interview Monday, Steiner would not saywhether the guards charging harassment wereinterviewed. He reiterated that Patrick'sinvestigation found the allegations to be withoutmerit.

A complaint by Yard guard Steven Thompson, whois Black, apparently prompted investigations bythe Office of Labor Relations and by the GeneralCounsel's office.

Security and union officials met with Thompsonand University attorney Patrick on September 12,1991. Patrick said she would investigate thecharges and get back to the union. Union businessagent Francis E. Fanning said Tuesday he was stillawaiting a response form Patrick.

In addition to Patrick's probe, Harvard'soffice of labor relations also conducted aninvestigation of Thompson's specific complaint.Thompson also said he was never interviewed by anyrepresentative of that office.

Carolyn R. Young, associate director of laborrelations, said she performed the investigationand found Thompson's complaint to be withoutmerit.

Black guard Pierre R. Voss last month said hewas racially harassed twice by Dowling and atleast 25 times by security supervisor DonaldBehenna.

Voss said Behenna cursed at him in front ofother employees and recalled a conversation inwhich Dowling said he would vote for former KuKlux Klan leader David Duke.

In addition, Voss said Behenna coerced him intowriting a letter saying the supervisor is not aracist in April 1991. Yesterday, Steven Thompsonconfirmed that he, too, had been pressured intowriting a similar letter by Behenna. It is notknown for what purpose the letters were solicited.

Chief Johnson last month acknowledged thatBehenna requested letters but said he did notpressure or coerce the guards.

Voss, who became a guard on January 26, 1991,originally made charges of racial harassment inmeetings with Dowling and Chief Johnson. He saidhis firing on July 23, 1991 was a retaliation forthose complaints.

Chief Johnson and Sinclair said Voss' chargesof harassment were not credible because he hadhistory of disciplinary problems.

Behenna said last month he is seeking legalcounsel and will not answer any questions from TheCrimson.

Voss filed a grievance with the ServiceEmployees International Union and a charge ofdiscrimination with the Equal EmploymentOpportunity Commission.

The University reinstated him two weeks laterbecause of a technical oversight by securityofficials, Steiner said last month. Securityofficials mistakenly though Voss was fired duringhis probationary period--the first six months ofemployment during which a guard may be fired forany reason.

In denying the allegations made by Voss andHispanic former guard Rolando Diaz, Dowling saidhis record of minority hiring was exemplary.

"I hired these people," Dowling said. "Icertainly didn't hire them to harass them."

But Voss said Dowling did not hire him. Vosssaid he transferred into the security guard unitfrom a different job at the Fogg Museum--atransfer which did not require Dowling's approval.

In addition, Brian D. Sinclair '62, assistantdirector for finance and administration at thepolice department, acknowledged that policeofficials called in and questioned Voss five daysafter he told The Crimson he was raciallyharassed.

Voss, who is on disability leave, was askedonly about his health during the meeting, Sinclairsaid. In an interview, Voss said themeeting--which was attended by Sinclair, Johnsonand Dowling--was retaliation for his publiccomments.

Police officials denied the meeting constitutedretaliation, and Sinclair said he and Johnsonattended the meeting only because the Voss casewas now a "high profile issue."

Hispanic former guard Rolando Diaz, a citizenof El Salvador, said Behenna cursed at him,laughed at his questions, and occasionally madederogatory references to his ethnic background.Diaz also said Dowling fired him because of hisnational origin.

Dowling and Chief Johnson denied Diaz was everharassed. Both officials said he was fired becauseof his lack of proficiency in English. Fourcomplaints about Diaz, all dated from June 1989,indicate the guard had trouble on the job becauseof his English.

Diaz, who worked as a guard from January 25 toJune 22, 1989, filed a grievance with the serviceEmployees' International Union and a complaintwith the Massachusetts Commission Againstdiscrimination (MCAD). MCAD dismissed thecomplaint after what one official called a "verythorough investigation."

Questions remain about the circumstancessurrounding Diaz's firing. Diaz, union stewardRobert Travers and Diaz's ex-wife Karen McReadyall said Diaz did not have union representationwhen he was fired.

Former University attorney Edward Powers said aJune 6 meeting between Travers and Dowling--duringwhich Diaz's problems with English werediscussed--constituted union representation.

Travers, who is also a guard, said he wasreturning to the guard office at the end of hisshift to turn in his radio when Dowling spoke tohim. Travers said he did not believe he wasrepresenting Diaz.

McReady also said she met with Dowling on June8, 1989, two weeks before her husband was fired.According to McReady, Dowling told her he mightfind Diaz a job somewhere in the University wherehe could "be with his own kind."

Travers said Dowling made the same statement tohim during the June 6 meeting. Last month, Dowlingdenied ever making the comment.

In a February 13, 1990 decision on Diaz's uniongrievance, Powers ruled that Diaz had sufficientunion representation and said McReady's andTravers' accounts of conversations with Dowlingwere not credible. McReady disputed that, sayingshe never spoke with Powers and was not allowedinto the January 1990 hearing.

Reached at his MIT office last week, Powerssaid he could not recall the details of the case.

Another guard, a Russian citizen who asked notto be named because he said he is a politicalrefugee, last month said security supervisorThomas Henaghan harassed him "almost every day"for the past two years.

Henaghan last month said he never harassed theguard. He said the guard warranted closesupervision because the guard had a history ofbeing out of uniform, away from his post andsleeping on the job.

The Russian guard said he sent a letter onmarch 11 of this year to Chief Johnson sayingHenaghan harassed him on numerous occasions.

According to documents obtained by The Crimson,the guard was suspended for three days in Apriland warned that further infractions of departmentrules would result in permanent dismissal.

In suspending the guard, the department said helied in a hearing to probe the incident of allegedharassment. The guard was also out of uniform atthe time, the department said, another factorresulting in suspension.

The guard said the suspension was retaliationfor the March 11 complaint of harassment. Theguard also said Dowling maintains an atmosphere inthe department where bigotry and ethnicallymotivated harassment are tolerated.

Dowling, Sinclair and Chief Johnson have deniedsuch charges.

Sinclair confirmed last month that thedepartment investigated a sexual harassmentcomplaint made by Kennedy School guard JacquelynnLeonard in 1990.

In a grievance dated November 8, 1990, Leonardsaid security supervisor Thomas Henaghan"discriminated against me on a gender basis" and"harassed me on a racial basis."

On one occasion, Henaghan allegedly toldLeonard, who is Asian-American, not to answer aphone call in the security office. "No, you can'tanswer that. You're a woman. They'll hang up onyou," he said, according to the grievance.

Sinclair said Leonard and Henaghan met todiscuss the matter, and Leonard said she has nothad any other problems with the supervisor.

Sinclair said Henaghan denied Leonard's chargesof harassment in 1990. An investigation could notcorroborate either Henaghan's or Leonard'saccount, he said.

In an interview, Leonard said Henaghan tried toretaliate against her for making the harassmentcomplaint. "He put down that I was late when Iwasn't," said Leonard. "He was retaliatory."

Sinclair said those instances of tardiness wereremoved from Leonard's record, and denies theyconstituted retaliation.

"It was a misunderstanding," he said. "If wehad thought it was retaliation, we would havetaken very strong steps."

Another Black guard, who asked not to be namedbecause he said he feared reprisals, said Behennahounded him unnecessarily while at this post andbelittled him during conversations. The guard alsorecounted an alleged April incident in which awhite guard used the word "nigger" in front of theBlack guard and a supervisor.

"[The white guard] said, `You see you niggersgetting your asses kicked in L.A. One reason wehave so many problems in this department is youpeople," said the guard.

Former Black Harvard security guard RodneyJohnson, now a guard at a local bank, said he sawracism in the discipline, promotion and day-to-daytreatment of minority guards while he worked atHarvard between 1978 and 1988.

Johnson also said the department refused torehire him in 1988 after he quit to apply for apost in MIT police department. Rodney Johnson saidChief Johnson had promised him a job when hereturned.

Chief Johnson denied that charge this week,saying Johnson left the unit without notice andhad a record of absences and problems. Sinclairalso denied that the department discriminatedagainst Johnson.

Yvonne Geeve, manager of the Medical School'sVanderbilt Hall--where Johnson was posted, saidthis week that Johnson never presented a problem."He's someone we would welcome back," Geeve said

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