A Harvard security guard who has complained both of back pain and on-the-job harassment was taken from his post of Mt. Auburn Hospital Friday night after falling on a flight of stairs.
The guard, Pierre R. Voss, had been working for just two days after returning from leave necessitated by a back injury. Two University Health Services doctors had recommended Voss come back to work on light duty, but instead he was placed on the "November shift," a chemistry laboratory area patrol which guards say requires an unusual amount of walking.
An independent medical examiner who saw Voss indicated his injury was not serious and said he could return to full duty, sources said. The examiner could not be reached for comment.
Voss was attempting to climb stairs to lock an outside door when he fell.
The guard said that while he strained his back and hurt his knee in the fall, he was not seriously hurt. Voss said he thinks his assignment to the November shift constitutes harassment and is an attempt to get him to quit.
Voss will resume work later this week. He said he has been assigned to the same shift, although he has asked to be put somewhere else.
Manager of Operations for Security Robert J. Dowling said yesterday that assigning Voss to the November shifts is appropriate because it no more difficult than any other shift.
"The shift is no more rigorous than any other," Dowling said.
Voss's fall came as Vice President and General Counsel Margaret H. Marshall, who for the past six months has been investigating allegations of discrimination made by security guards, left on an extended summer holiday, She could not be reached for comment yesterday.
University security guard Howard Reid, who was working with Voss on Friday night, said he did not witness the guard's fall, but arrived shortly afterward to find his colleague immobilized.
"He couldn't move," said Reid. "He couldn't get up, so we had to call an ambulance."
Reid said Voss also was bleeding from his elbow after the fall. He said the guard had complained of back pain earlier in the evening, and appeared to have difficulty walking.
Reid, like Voss, has publicly alleged racial discrimination by security department officials. Both guards are Black.
This was not the first time Voss has had trouble working the November shift. Last fall, shortly after returning from another leave forced by his bad back, Voss spent two weeks in a body cast after working the shift.
Sources also said that Voss's assignment was unusual because the November shift had been advertised and another guard with more seniority had stated that he wanted the shift. While the shift was advertised with weekends off, Voss works weekends, sources said.
Voss is the second employee who has complained of discrimination and been assigned to the November shift.
Stephen G. McCombe, a security guard and union steward, has a so been assigned to the November shift. McCombe, who says be sometunes had difficulty breathing, said he had a reaction to the chemicals used in the laboratories covered by the November shift. McCombe was later transferred to another post.