Boston Settles Discrimination Lawsuit: Black Officers Receive $2.6 Million
The city of Boston has reached a resolution in a long-standing federal discrimination lawsuit, agreeing to pay $2.6 million to several Black police officers who were adversely affected by a controversial hair test used to identify drug use, according to attorneys representing the officers.
The discriminatory hair test, which the city discontinued in 2021, became the focal point of the legal dispute that led to damages being awarded to three Black officers and a cadet. These individuals either lost their jobs or faced disciplinary measures due to the contested test, as outlined in a news release by their legal representatives. While a settlement has been reached, specific details are yet to be officially filed.
The officers initiated the lawsuit in 2005, arguing that the city’s hair test was inherently discriminatory, particularly affecting Black individuals with a higher susceptibility to false positives. Both the city and the testing company employed by the Boston police staunchly denied any racial bias in the testing process.
The legal saga unfolded in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, with the court initially acknowledging in 2014 that the hair test disproportionately impacted Black officers. Subsequently, in 2016, the court found sufficient evidence indicating that the city continued to use the hair test despite being informed of a less discriminatory alternative.
The culmination of this legal battle occurred in 2018 when the case proceeded to trial. Following the trial, the involved parties entered into mediation, ultimately leading to the recently announced settlement.
The $2.6 million payout underscores the city’s acknowledgment of the impact of the discriminatory testing method on Black officers’ careers. The resolution marks a significant step in rectifying historical grievances and highlights the importance of equitable practices within law enforcement agencies.