Harvard faces bias complaint by officer
A lawsuit in federal court asserts that the Harvard University Police Department passed over a black officer for a number of promotions and that superiors routinely made racist remarks about blacks and Latinos.
The complaint by Officer George Pierce, a veteran patrolman who is black, said he applied for open sergeant positions a number of times only to be passed over for less-qualified, employees who were not black. The reason Pierce was not promoted was his race, the lawsuit contends, citing various instances when Pierce sought a sergeant spot but was turned down.
’’Throughout Pierce’s employment at Harvard, Harvard and the department have created and maintained a pervasive racially biased environment within the department,’’ the lawsuit said.
The complaint also asserts that Pierce had to endure supervisory officers making racial comments about blacks dominating sports and a derogatory slur describing a Latino police officer.
The suit seeks unspecified damages.
Kevin Galvin, a Harvard spokesman, said the school does not comment on pending litigation.
Pierce has worked as a Harvard patrol officer since 2002 and is a former police officer in the town of Arlington.
Ellen Messing, Pierce’s attorney, said her client has about 30 years of experience in law enforcement and just wants a promotion he feels that he has earned.
“He believes that he can contribute and he can do a good job but he’s been denied the opportunity because of his race,’’ Messing said.
The lawsuit was filed two years after a panel was asked to look at allegations of racial profiling by campus police and it recommended better training and outreach to students and faculty.