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Wrongful termination suit filed by lab chemist in St. Louis

A woman employed for a quarter century as a chemist testing drugs in the lab for the St. Louis police recently went to trial in her civil suit against the department she accused of firing her over her exposure of another employee's drug testing errors.

The woman, who was fired in 2010, filed a wrongful termination suit, claiming the department ended her career. She is seeking at least $665,000, the amount that she would have earned had she been able to finish working as a lab chemist for the police department. She maintains she was fired for reporting that on two occasions in 2008, another chemist failed to follow proper testing procedures and did not detect benzylpiperazine in pills submitted to the lab for testing. Benzylpiperazine is a strong stimulant used to produce Ecstasy.

Her attorneys allege that when the chemist learned about the errors, she shared her concerns with her supervisors, but the issue was dismissed. Later testing proved that she was correct. Neither her supervisors nor the colleague who had made the error ever corrected the results, a violation of national standards and lab policy.

The police board is represented by lawyers from the state attorney general's office. They insist that the chemist was terminated in October 2010 for very different reasons, saying she disobeyed orders and worked on a homicide case when drug cases were to be her only priority. The Assistant Attorney General described her as being a loose cannon in the department who displayed animosity toward co-workers and questioned orders regarding the homicide case. Describing her as "an excellent chemist," he added that she "usually didn't play well with others."

A Missouri attorney who practices employment law can provide guidance and advice if you face similar circumstances of wrongful termination from your job.

Source: Forensic Magazine, "Former St Louis Police Chemist Alleges Wrongful Termination" Jennifer Mann, May. 21, 2014

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