Employees, Students Protest Against University Financial Services, Citing Discriminatory Layoffs
The protesters marched in a circle in front of the Holyoke Center with signs bearing the slogans, “Harvard is not poor!” and “Harvard, don’t discriminate!”
UFS informed a group of employees in March of last year that they were entering a six-month period during which their work would be evaluated, according to a letter received by Sarah Tate, one of the notified workers who was later laid off.
“The next six months will be considered a transition period...your continuation in this role...is contingent upon your work performance and skills development meeting the needs of your expanded role,” wrote Human Resources Officer Michelle A. Roach in a letter to Tate.
Geoffrey P. Carens, a library assistant who is two of the laid-off workers’ representative in the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, said that the workers were evaluated based on their speed of completing assigned work. He alleges that UFS did not lay off Caucasian workers who performed at a slower rate than the two workers he is representing.
Bill Jaeger, the Director of HUCTW, declined to comment on the allegations of discrimination.
Both of the laid off workers present at the rally emphasized their hard work and dedication to the University.
“I have been here ten years, loyal, working through vacations and when they call an emergency situation,” Tate said. “What offends me most is that there is no doubt in my mind that my performance level was great.”
The University does not comment on personnel matters, according to a University spokesperson in an email to The Crimson.
However, the spokesperson highlighted Harvard’s employment policies, which state, “in compliance with applicable federal and state laws and local ordinances, the University does not discriminate in the terms and conditions of employment”.
Carens said that the goal of the protests is to get the employees rehired.
“This is likely going be an ongoing campaign because management has so far shown absolutely no willingness to bend on their position that these people were laid off because they were too slow,” Carens said.
The protest was the third action this year on behalf of the laid off workers. Carens said that the group plans to hold a protest at Commencement in May if their allegations are not addressed by the University before then.
—Staff writer Christine Y. Cahill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @cycahill16.