racial discrimination

State Crime Lab: Noose Discovered at Office Not ‘Amenable' for DNA Testing

A Black employee alleged racial discrimination and retaliation at his union job, culminating with the discovery of a noose at his office desk. Quincy Police sent the noose to the state's crime lab for DNA testing, but it was returned because it was touched by three people without gloves prior to submission.

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New details are emerging about a Black employee who alleged racial discrimination and retaliation at his union job.

The worker, Rich Summers, said he found a noose on his desk chair when he arrived at the National Association of Government Employees office building last November.

The discovery launched an investigation by the Quincy Police Department. When we first reported on Summers’ allegation in September, police said they were awaiting DNA results from the state’s crime lab.

NBC10 Boston
The NAGE office building in Quincy, Massachusetts

However, the NBC10 Boston Investigators later learned the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory had already determined months earlier that the noose was not amenable for testing, per the agency's protocols.

According to a June 10 email we obtained, a forensic scientist told a Quincy detective the item would be returned to the police department and the case would be closed. The reason the noose was not amenable for testing is because it was handled by three or more people without gloves prior to its submission.

When asked why police did not relay that information to us when we reported the story in September, Capt. Daniel Guarente said there was a communication breakdown between the evidence officer and the lead investigator in the case.

"It appears to have been an unfortunate oversight that has been addressed," Guarente said.

Guarente told NBC10 Boston the department has now been approved to send the noose to an independent lab for DNA analysis, which could take up to four months.

According to a Quincy Police report we obtained, detectives interviewed more than a dozen employees at NAGE after Summers reported finding the noose.

a photo of a noose tied in neon rope on an office chair
Contributed Photo

The three people who admitted touching the rope — Summers and two other NAGE employees — submitted DNA samples.

The report concluded, "There are no witnesses in this case who saw the noose being placed on Summers' chair. There are no cameras in the building. This case can be considered closed pending results from the State Crime Lab."

Summers was hired as a union representative at NAGE in March 2020 and was responsible for meeting with government employees at RMV branches around the state.

In August 2021, Summers said his boss made racially insensitive remarks at a work meeting.

When he later approached his boss to let him know how the comments made him feel, Summers said he began to experience retaliation, including losing his car allowance, a change of job duties, and having his desk moved to a spot in direct line of sight of leadership at the labor union.

Following the noose incident, Summers filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the state agency that investigates and enforces the state’s anti-discrimination laws. That case is still pending.

In documents filed in response to the MCAD complaint, NAGE argued that its actions were all based on Summers' job performance or required responsibilities and not discriminatory or retaliatory in nature.

When NAGE did not respond to our repeated requests for comment about the allegations, we approached the union's president, David Holway, outside the office building.

Holway told us NAGE would be vindicated at the conclusion of the investigation.

"I think Mr. Summers is going to be deeply disappointed at the outcome," Holway said. "I've been in charge here for 20 years and there's never been any type of allegation like this against anybody."

While awaiting answers from the Quincy Police investigation, NAGE said it offered Summers a number of job options, including working from home.

Summers refused, and the organization eventually placed him on unpaid leave in February and stopped his benefits in April. The union is disputing his unemployment benefits claim, according to documents filed with MCAD.

Once describing it as a position he loved, Summers said, "I now describe it as a job that I feel took part of my soul."

Ryan Kath can be reached at ryan.kath@nbcuni.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

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