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Court Revives Claims of Racially Biased Cop Tests

(CN) - Hispanic and black police officers can advance claims that several Massachusetts towns use a racially discriminatory multiple-choice test to hire sergeants, an appeals court ruled.

Lead plaintiff Pedro Lopez claims that, though qualified, he performed poorly on a test in his city to determine whether he could be promoted. The class action against the commonwealth of Massachusetts and its Division of Human Resources says the test is biased toward Hispanic and black officers.

A Superior Court judge dismissed the case on the basis of sovereign immunity and failure to state a claim, but the Supreme Judicial Court partially vacated that order Friday.

"Based on these allegations, the complaint sets forth a plausible claim that the division's examination has a disparate impact on African-American and Hispanic police officers," Justice Fernande Duffly wrote for a four-member majority.

The court upheld dismissal of the other claims.

In a partial dissent, Justice Robert Cordy that the officers may have a case against their individual municipalities but not the commonwealth.


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