Racially biased drug tests alleged

July 27, 2005 at 2:21 PM

BOSTON, July 27 (UPI) -- Seven former Boston police officers, all African-Americans, have sued their police department, alleging that biased drug tests were used to fire them.

The officers were fired after their hair samples tested positive for cocaine, the Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

Attorney Rheba Rutkowski said scientific literature indicates the texture of African-American hair and the hair products they use could skew the results of a hair test, the report said. The plaintiffs want to clear their names, get their jobs back and be compensated, Rutkowski said.

Police department spokesman Michael McCarthy declined comment saying the department had not been notified of the lawsuit. He said the drug tests were started in 1999 after ''extensive negotiations with the police unions."

The company that conducts the drug tests for the department said it has had no complaints from any of its hundreds of clients. However, some federal departments don't use hair, saliva or sweat to test federal workers for drugs because of concern about fairness in these tests, the Globe said.

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