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Case Name Jones v. City of Boston EE-MA-0024
Docket / Court 1:05-cv-11832-DPW ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Attorney Organization Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Case Summary
On July 26, 2005, a group of current and former Boston Police Department (BPD) officers, an applicant to the BPD, and the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers filed this lawsuit in the Suffolk County Massachusetts Superior Court. The plaintiffs sued the City of Boston and ... read more >
On July 26, 2005, a group of current and former Boston Police Department (BPD) officers, an applicant to the BPD, and the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers filed this lawsuit in the Suffolk County Massachusetts Superior Court. The plaintiffs sued the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 1981, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and state law. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants engaged in discriminatory drug testing practices. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the hair test used to screen police officers and applicants for drug use disproportionately affected people of color, and that they were wrongly terminated, denied employment, or required to enter drug treatment programs as a result of errors in the test.

The plaintiffs argued that hair tests are notorious for yielding false positives on hair samples from people of color specifically and are acknowledged by the Society of Forensic Toxicologists as being unreliable. In fact, the complaint states, many of the candidates who were let go from BPD had alternative hair tests come up as “negative”. These flawed exams, the plaintiffs argued, were thus too imprecise, arbitrary and biased to be the basis for hiring and firing decisions. The plaintiffs deny they used illicit drugs and claim their hair tests resulted in false positives. The plaintiffs requested a permanent injunction against the use of the hair test, to be reinstated with proper seniority, full back pay for the fired officers including sick leave and interest, attorneys’ fees, punitive and compensatory damages.

On September 9, 2005, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts at the request of the defendants who stated the majority of the plaintiffs' claims rested in federal law.

Subsequently, the defendants moved for summary judgment. On September 28, 2012, U.S. District Judge George A. O'Toole, Jr. granted summary judgment to the defendants on all counts. Judge O’Toole ruled that the plaintiffs did not meet their burden of proof to show the hair test policy causes a disparate impact on the basis of race. The District Court focused on the fact that 97-99% of African Americans passed the test, while 99-100% of White officers passed. The plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. 2012 WL 4530594.

On May 7, 2014, the First Circuit ruled that there is enough evidence to show disparate impact on the basis of race under Title VII. The statistics from the use of the hair tests from 1999-2006 were analyzed by both courts. In response to the district court's conclusion that the hair test resulted in no disparate impact, the First Circuit highlighted the disparity in those who tested positive. Over the eight years evaluated in this case, 1.3% of black officers tested positive and .28% of white officers tested positive, so for this period a black officer was five times more likely to test positive than a white officer. The Circuit Court held that the statistics presented do constitute a disparate impact on the basis of race and remanded the case back to the District of Massachusetts. 752 F.3d 38 (2014).

On December 10, 2014, the defendants requested summary judgment in the second case before the District of Massachusetts. On August 6, 2015, U.S. District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock again granted summary judgment for the defendants. He found that where a policy creates a disparate impact under Title VII, the burden shifts to the employer to prove there is “Job Relatedness and Business Necessity” for the policy. Judge Woodlock found that the BPD met this burden. 118 F.Supp.3d 425 (D.Mass. 2015).

On September 1, 2015, the plaintiffs again appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case is still pending, and no further action has been taken in First Circuit as of September 30, 2016.

Kelly Ehrenreich - 10/02/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-area
Discharge / Constructive Discharge / Layoff
Hiring
Seniority
Testing
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disparate Impact
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) City of Boston
Plaintiff Description Seven of the plaintiffs were former officers fired by Boston Police Department after testing positive for cocaine; one is a former cadet in the same situation; another continues to work as an officer after testing positive and undergoing rehabilitation as an alternative to termination; and the last is a former applicant to the department whose contingent job offer was revoked after a positive test.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lawyers Comm. for Civil Rights Under Law
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Microsoft Gender Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit
Date: Oct. 14, 2016
By: Outten & Golden
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Age Discrimination Class Action seeks Fair Employment for Older PwC Applicants
http://www.pwcagecase.com/
Date: Apr. 27, 2016
By: Outten & Golden
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Smith Barney Gender Discrimination
https://www.lieffcabraser.com/employment/smith-barney/
Date: August 2008
By: Outten & Golden
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Date: Mar. 1, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
Date: Apr. 1, 2001
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:05-cv-11832-DPW (D. Mass.)
EE-MA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1-3]
EE-MA-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 17]
EE-MA-0024-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
District Court Opinion, 9/27/12 [ECF# 191] (2012 WL 4530594) (D. Mass.)
EE-MA-0024-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/27/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion 5/7/14 [Ct. of App. ECF# 116685030] (752 F.3d 38)
EE-MA-0024-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/07/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
District Court Opinion 8/6/15 [ECF# 259] (118 F.Supp.3d 425) (D. Mass.)
EE-MA-0024-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Howard, Jeffrey R. (First Circuit)
EE-MA-0024-0003
Kayatta, William Joseph Jr. (First Circuit)
EE-MA-0024-0003
O'Toole, George A. Jr. (D. Mass.)
EE-MA-0024-0002 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Torruella, Juan R. (D.P.R., First Circuit)
EE-MA-0024-0003
Woodlock, Douglas Preston (D. Mass.)
EE-MA-0024-0004 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adkins, John F. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Baker, Robert B. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Benson, William F. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Bohenek, Matthew T. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Cohen, Nadine M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-0001 | EE-MA-0024-0005 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Cohen, Jared B. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Cooper, Jenny K. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
El-Mallawany, Deana K. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Fisher, Nikki J. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Heining, Eric A. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Lue, Yin-Shuan (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Maslow-Armand, Laura (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
McGee, Amanda V. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Olshan, Jeffrey (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Pirozzolo, Lisa J. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Rachal, Doreen M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Robertson, Paul M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-0001 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Rodriques, Louis A. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Rollins, Rachael Splaine (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-0001 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Rutkowski, J. Rheba (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-0001 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Sartori, Elizabeth M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Webster, Raquel J. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Wolkoff, Eric D. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Woodham, Maricia D. (Alabama)
EE-MA-0024-0001 | EE-MA-0024-0005 | EE-MA-0024-9000
Zhu, Ming M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Buckley, Margaret Mary (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Chernetsky, James M. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Clarkson, Michael K. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Condon, Amy E. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Ferrer, Nicole Murati (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Harris, Mary Jo (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000
Litsas, Helen G. (Massachusetts)
EE-MA-0024-9000

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