City apologizes for worker’s unlawful drug, alcohol tests

By THOMAS J. MORGAN

JOURNAL sTAFF wRITER PAWTUCKET — The City of Pawtucket has agreed to apologize to one of its employees and to pay her legal fees after she sued over its drug-testing policy.

Romana Ramos, a police matron and interpreter for 17 years, contended that she was unlawfully required to submit to a random urine test for drugs and a chemical breath test for alcohol. The penalty for refusal was a 30-day suspension. Both tests proved negative, according to the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU on Thursday announced the settlement of the case, which was handled by volunteer attorney Richard A. Sinapi.

The ACLU said that state law allows drug testing in the workplace, but reasonable suspicion is required. Random testing is not allowed, the organization said in a news release.

In the settlement, the ACLU said, the city agreed to pay $5,000 in legal costs and to take steps to bring its testing policy into line with state law.

Sinapi said that the ACLU will take action against other employers if they require testing not approved by state law.