A dozen white male cops have filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco claiming they were passed over for promotions because of their race and gender.
The plaintiffs accuse the San Francisco Police Department of discriminating against white male officers through an “obscure and biased” promotional process that favors lower-scoring candidates.
“A disturbing pattern emerges from SFPD’s promotional scheme because it shows that lower-scoring African-American and female candidates are the primary beneficiaries of SFPD’s illegal promotion process,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court Tuesday, also includes a female former sergeant who accuses the department of failing to promote her because she is “a white lesbian.”
The agency’s legal battle over its promotion system dates back to 1973, when an association of black cops known as Officers for Justice brought a class-action lawsuit against the department alleging race and sex discrimination.
As part of a settlement several years later, the agency agreed to implement a “banding” procedure, which places candidates who score within a certain range in their promotional exams in the same pool, according to the lawsuit. Candidates in the pool are treated equally and promotions are based on other criteria, such as education, training, assignments, disciplinary history, commendations and awards, the complaint states.
The settlement required the banding procedure to be used through 1998, but the latest lawsuit claims the city continues to use it, resulting in what the plaintiffs describe as a “custom of discriminating against white males” seeking promotions to sergeant, lieutenant and captain.
In 2016, for instance, every eligible black sergeant who applied for a lieutenant promotion received one while only half of white applicants did so, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs suggested such an outcome “required that candidates be selected from the very bottom of rank order.”
The San Francisco city attorney’s office did not immediately return a request seeking comment Thursday morning. The other defendants listed in the complaint include the city’s police commission, the city’s civil service commission, a former mayor, a former police chief and the current chief.
As a result of the alleged discrimination, the plaintiffs say they have suffered “extreme mental anguish, extreme embarrassment, extreme humiliation, anxiety and emotional distress.” They are seeking an undetermined financial compensation and an order placing them in the next available position on their respective promotion lists.
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