Two University security guards have filed complaints with a state agency, charging Harvard with discrimination.
Pierre R. Voss and another guard, who is a Russian citizen and has requested that his name not be used, filed the complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination during the past month, their attorney, Richard H. Spicer, said.
The two filing brought to three the total number of state discrimination complaints by former and current Harvard security guards during the past six months. Former guard Juan Figueroa filed a complaint with the commission in January in an attempt to get his job back, and at least three more filing could be imminent. There has been no ruling so far on Figueroa's complaint.
Last week, Voss hired Spicer, who represents all three guards who have thus far filed charges. The attorney has a fourth client in the security unit, guard Stephen G. McCombe, who has not yet filed a complaint.
Voss, who is Black, charged last spring that he was harassed about two dozen times by security supervisor Donald P. Behenna. His complaint, which was not released by the commission, charges the University with discrimination on the basis of race. Behenna has refused to answer all questions from The Crimson.
The Russian guard's complaint was filed with the commission on July 1. The guard, who was fired in February and is now appealing that decision through his union, has charged Harvard with discrimination on the basis of national origin and age, Spicer said.
Voss, who has missed several months of work over the past year with a back injury, said he fell down a flight of stairs on July 9 and was taken to Mt. Auburn Hospital after being placed on a shift that many guards consider especially strenuous. One guard, Howard Reid, said he saw Voss immediately after the fall with a bloodied elbo.
But Harvard has refused to recognize the incident as a work-related injury or pay worker's compensation for it. The University also disputes Voss's charge that his placement on a strenuous shift constituted harassment. Manager of Operations for Security Robert J. Dowling said the shift, which requires walking through chemistry labs, is no more taxing than any other.
Harvard, according to police department sources, will base its defense on a report written by another security guard who was walking with Voss as they did the shift together on July 9. In that report, the guard says he did not witness Voss's fall.
Spicer said he might seek some sort of action to contest the University's handling of the fall. "Harvard is apparently questioning the nature of his injury," he said. "We're considering all the possible options.
Spicer said that while the process of pursuing a complaint through the commission can be slow, it is the best avenue in these cases.
"I am well aware the commission has suffered a 40 percent or greater reduction in its budget and a 40 percent reduction in personnel," Spicer said.
Vice President and General Counsel Margaret H. Marshall was out of the country yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Over the past year, H former and current security employees have alleged that there was dissemination in the unit. I January, Marshall, with the assistance of former EBI agent James A. Ring, launched an investigation of the unit.
But in interviews in recent weeks. University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr., who is handling the Figueroa case for Harvard, would not say which Harvard attorney, if any, had been assigned the cases of Voss and the Russian guard
University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr., who is handling the Figueroa case for Harvard, would not say which Harvard attorney, if any, had been assigned the cases of Voss and the Russian guard