A Boston police patrolman, detective and three police unions are suing the Boston Police Department for subjecting its members returning from leaves of absence to what the members say are unnecessary psychological exams in order to return to work.
“Boston Police Department … maintains a discriminatory practice that subjects officers who take leaves of absence to medical and psychological examinations unrelated to their leaves in order to return to work,” the civil suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, states.
The plaintiffs, including the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society and the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation, allege the department’s actions are handicap and genetic information discrimination, and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Patrolman James LaCroix alleges in the suit he was required to undergo a mental evaluation by BPD psychiatrist Andrew Brown despite no concerns to his knowledge about his mental state. The officer injured his back and right hip in 2016 during a foot chase of a suspect and was cleared by the BPD’s occupational physician to return to light work in December 2018.
LaCroix was cleared by Brown to return to work but told the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association about the mental evaluation. The department told counsel for the union that the mental evaluation for a leave over six months was “consistent practice.”
A police detective and veteran of the department for 33 years, Renee Payne-Callender, broke a bone in her right heel in February 2018, the suit states. She was cleared by a doctor to return to light duty on Jan. 11 but was told she could not be cleared to work or be issued her firearm until she saw Brown.
She had to wait until the end of the month for her appointment, and she was cleared by Brown. According to the suit, Payne-Callender asked Brown if anyone had raised a concern regarding her mental state, and he told her no.
The suit alleges the BPD previously subjected officers to a mental evaluation only if they were returning from military leave, and has extended the requirement to all members out on leave past six months “likely in an effort to avoid” violating a federal statute.
Unions for Boston police patrolmen, detectives and superior officers allege a number of their members have been subjected to similar exams.
Brown, who lists himself as the psychiatrist for the BPD in medical journal reports and on his LinkedIn profile, as well as representatives for the police unions and an attorney for the plaintiffs, did not respond to requests for comment.