Discrimination lawsuit against BPD hangs by a hair

A federal appeals court ruled yesterday that several black employees of the Boston Police Department who tested positive for cocaine use offered enough proof the tests might have been racially discriminatory to warrant a closer inspection by a judge or jury.

A lower court judge had basically tossed the entire case. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the numbers don't lie: Several years of statistics from drug tests used between 1999 and 2006 showed a significantly higher positive rate among blacks than among whites, and that fact alone warrants judicial consideration as to why there was such a "disparate impact," under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act.

At issue are drug screenings that involved testing hair samples. The plaintiffs argue the tests unfairly tagged the plaintiffs as drug users because higher levels of melanin in their hair was more likely to bind to cocaine basically floating in the air from actual drug users, for example, at barber shops or hair salons. The department countered that no members of the drug-control and evidence units, where officers could be expected to have a high rate of contact with "aerosolized" cocaine, ever tested positive on the tests.

The court did reject the employees' argument that their due-process rights were violated, saying they were given adequate chances to appeal the test results. The court said due process did not apply to one plaintiff who had a job offer rescinded because of a positive test because she was not yet a permanent employee.

Neighborhoods: 

Topics: 

    Free tagging: 

    AttachmentSize
    Complete ruling87.16 KB

    Comments

    They still need to properly validate drug tests

    If there is substantial variation between obvious groups, that needs to be investigated.

    I mean, yeah, this sounds like the "sorbitol in my mouthwash" bullcrap from that State Senator ... but, hey, not like the technicians in the state labs - or private labs - ever mess around with stuff in the name of throughput or getting products to market. No, nothing like that.

    up
    15

    The BPD

    followed the proper procedures. These disgraced former officers were caught and canned. They were allowed safety net testing and rehab to save their jobs but why do that when you can sue and blame the test based on statistics. This case and the alleged skewed statistics does not recognize the hundreds of Black BPD officers doing their jobs with honor and dignity every day. No excuses.

    up
    20

    Well if BPD fired white cops

    By on

    Well if BPD fired white cops for drug use it wouldn't be an issue, but turning a blind eye to it when its white cops and only prosecuting for blacks even you must see is wrong. All should be fired, but how many white cops were fired when the Boom Boom Room was found to be a drug den for boston cops?

    This article says nothing

    By on

    This article says nothing about white cops not being fired after testing positive. It says that black cops are arguing the test is unfair because more blacks are testing positive.

    up
    18

    Swing & miss

    the boom boom room was run by three disgraced hispanic officers referred to as the three amigo's. It was their club not a "white" officers club.

    up
    22

    Great job anon.

    By on

    Got a source or any actual numbers there, or are you just spouting BS as usual anon?

    up
    12

    Did you even read the details

    Did you even read the details of the suspension thing? The whole point is that black students are more likely to get suspended than white students for the same offense. That's not just black people whining, no matter how closely it fits your white resentment narrative. And anything that has a racially disparate impact in the school system is probably illegal, and has been for over 50 years.

    It of course might be helpful to read information that isn't from The Daily Caller, who are racists that shouldn't be given clicks:

    One study by Indiana University has suggested that whites more often get suspended for objective behavior issues like smoking in the bathroom, while black kids are more often punished for subjective reasons, including acts of defiance.

    At the same time, data suggests that there's little evidence that black children exhibit higher rates of actual deviance than white children. That suggests a cultural causation where a largely white teaching corps may be applying hidden prejudices in discipline, says Professor Skiba. “We've had teachers tell us that there are different forms of white defiance and black defiance, and they're bothered more by black defiance,” he says.

    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Education/2012/0306/Minority-students-are-p...

    up
    13

    Let's rephrase

    > We've had teachers tell us that there are different forms of white
    > defiance and black defiance, and they're bothered more by black
    > defiance,” he says.

    They're bothered more when blacks are defiant.

    I don't know how this stuff

    I don't know how this stuff works, but:

    "The plaintiffs argue the tests unfairly tagged the plaintiffs as drug users because higher levels of melanin in their hair was more likely to bind to cocaine basically floating in the air from actual drug users, for example, at barber shops or hair salons."

    So, is there another test that can be used as a control?

    Also, what the heck kind of barbershop do you go to where there is cocaine floating in the air? I've never knowingly walked through a haze of cocaine anywhere, but then again, I lead a very sheltered life.

    up
    20

    Floating in the air

    How sensitive would that have to be?

    Wouldn't evidence lab people be testing positive all the time under those conditions?

    up
    15

    Agreed. I believe the

    Agreed. I believe the article states that BPD said pretty much the same thing: none of their drug officers test positive due to atmospheric exposure to cocaine.

    Also, maybe, um, wash your hair?

    up
    15

    T

    By on

    If washing your hair could beat a hair test then they wouldn't use hair tests. They sell shampoos that are supposed to make you test clean but I can't personally attest to the efficacy of such products.

    This sounds like a last ditch effort to get around a drug test when they were getting high one coke. I will say I used to hang around with a dealer and witnessed several bpd and mbta officers purchase from him, sometimes even in uniform. They were all white but obviously that doesn't mean anything in the overall picture

    up
    14

    If the reason that your hair

    If the reason that your hair contains cocaine is because you were in a room that was thick with cocaine dust, then I think washing your hair could help you beat this false positive. I really think, however, that this excuse is a last-ditch effort.

    up
    13

    Exactly

    By on

    Because in evidence rooms that just leave drugs unsecured and randomly placed. Thats like saying a medical professional who administers classified drugs would also test positive for opiates.

    Exactly

    By on

    Because in evidence rooms thry just leave drugs unsecured and randomly placed. Thats like saying a medical professional who administers classified drugs would also test positive for opiates.

    You ever been in an evidence room?

    By on

    Remember all the drugs and money that went missing from the BPD?

    Yeah, that. The cops aren't that careful. They aren't egghead scientisty weeny types, you know!

    up
    10

    Your body absorbs

    By on

    chemicals far to fast. If you were working and exposed to such materials you would absorb it long before you had a chance to shower. And inhalation is the fastest way in which your body intakes, think O2.

    If you are working around

    By on

    If you are working around cocaine and have residue in your hair, it can be washed out. If you have cocaine in your system, you cannot wash it out, the chemicals will be present in the hair sample.

    Pff

    By on

    Wow, is all i can come up with

    up
    16

    Hmmm

    By on

    Smokers are more likely to get lung cancer than nonsmokers. Drunks are more likely to die of liver failure than nondrinkers. Druggies are more likely to fail a drug test and get fired than non-users. OMG, disparate impacts all around! Either ban lung cancer, liver failure and drug testing, or force everyone to smoke, drink and do drugs so everyone's affected equally!

    Question outstanding

    By on

    Did they test positive for both cocaine and cocaine metabolites in their hair?

    If so, they had cocaine in their system. Environmental cocaine (usually from someone smoking cocaine near you) is going to get in your hair as contamination. But cocaine metabolites are only produced and trapped in your hair when you have taken in cocaine yourself and created the metabolites. The presence or absence of the metabolites is often the deciding factor as to whether you took cocaine or simply were contaminated with it.

    up
    26