Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Commission orders investigation into Boston's use of special certifications for female police officers

The Commission has initiated an investigation into the process used by the Boston Police Department, with the approval of the Human Resources Division, to appoint female police officer candidates using special certifications.  The Commission ordered the investigation following the appeal in Pugsley v. City of Boston et al., No. E-10-334.  (Full disclosure: I represent the appellant in this appeal.)  Pugsley alleged that Boston's request for a gender-specific certification in 2010 and HRD's approval of the request violated Chapter 31 and caused him to lose the opportunity for appointment to the Boston Police Academy class.  The procedure used by Boston is called "special certification" and allows an appointing authority to request a certification of candidates with special qualifications for a given position.   For example, appointing authorities will use special certifications to appoint candidates with foreign language skills.

The Commission ruled that HRD's approval of Boston's special certification did not comply with Chapter 31 or with the standard practice and procedure of HRD.  Notably, the Commission found Boston's hiring process for the December 2010 Police Academy to be "seriously flawed."  While noting several deficiencies in the process, the Commission highlighted the fact that Chapter 31 requires HRD to submit any request for a gender special certification to the Commission Against Discrimination, which HRD acknowledged it did not do.

The Commission ordered HRD to provide copies of all requests for gender special certifications dating back to 2001, along with other information concerning the hiring process for the December 2010 Boston Police Academy class.  A hearing on the investigation is scheduled for February 17, 2012.  The Commission stayed the actual appeal filed by Pugsley for the time being.

Commission grants Section 40 transfers to former Boston Municipal Police Department officers

In a decision stemming from the abolishment of the Boston Municipal Police Department ("BPMD") in 2007, the Commission has ordered the Human Resources Division to accept transfer requests under Section 40 of Chapter 31 from 27 former officers of BPMD to the Boston Police Department.  The decision, Twenty-Seven Former Boston Municipal Police Officers, Sergeants and Lieutenants v. Boston Police Department, Nos. D1-07-05 - D1-07-31, was issued after a ruling by the Massachusetts Appeals Court that found sufficient evidence to permit a finding that there had been a "transfer of functions" within the meaning of Section 40 from the BPMD to the Boston Police Department.  Following the Appeals Court decision, the Commission further reviewed the evidence and determined that a "significant and material"portion of functions had been transferred from the BPMD to the Boston Police Department.  However, the Commission found a lack of evidence that the supervisory functions of the BPMD were transferred to the Boston Police Department.  Therefore, the Commission limited its ruling to allowing the appellants to request transfers to officer positions only, regardless of whether they had been superior officers with the BPMD.


Thank you for reading this blog.  I am an employment litigation attorney with a specialty in appeals before the Civil Service Commission.  I decided to create this blog after discovering that, other than the Civil Service Commission website (, there does not seem to be a good source on the Internet to check on the latest updates at the Commission. Appeals before the Commission often concern significant issues that affect many public safety employees throughout Massachusetts.  I hope that this blog provides some helpful information for these employees to keep up to date on the latest developments.