13 white police officers sue San Francisco and police dept on grounds of racial discrimination

The City of San Francisco is being sued by 13 white police officers who claim they were discriminated against because of their race.

The present and former San Francisco police officers allege in a lawsuit filed this week against the city and county of San Francisco, the San Francisco Police Department and other agencies that they were passed over for promotions in favor of minority candidates, according to KPIX-TV.

(Image: Wikimedia)

“SFPD has a pattern of promoting lower-scoring candidates over higher-scoring candidates when promoting candidates to Sergeant, Lieutenant and Captain,” part of the complaint read. “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.”

Twelve of the plaintiffs are current officers who claim to have been passed over for promotions because they are white males while the 13th plaintiff is “a retired sergeant who contends she was passed over for promotion to lieutenant because she is a white lesbian,” according to KPIX.

“All outreaches by plaintiffs and others on their behalf have been rebuffed or ignored and morale is suffering. It is in this pernicious atmosphere of confusion, obfuscation and blatant discrimination that compelled plaintiffs to file this lawsuit,” the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in federal court, read.

John Cote, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, pushed back on the allegations.

“The SFPD uses lawful, merit-based, competitive civil service examinations in making promotions,” he said in a statement. “This system is enshrined in the city’s charter and civil service rules. It’s designed to provide qualified individuals with the chance for advancement while ensuring fair treatment without regard to race, gender, religion, age or other status. We will review this lawsuit and address it in court.”

According to Time:

The lawsuit challenges a test-scoring method that the city adopted in 1979 in response to a lawsuit from a group representing black and female officers, who alleged discrimination in hiring and promotions.

San Francisco “bands” promotional test scores so that people who score within a certain range are treated the same, which means the department can consider other factors such as language skills and experience in awarding promotions. The latest lawsuit challenges that method.


“In 2016, the department promoted three black sergeants, even though their scores were lower than those of 11 white candidates who were denied promotions,” the officers’ attorney, M. Greg Mullanax, said in the lawsuit, Time reported.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the police department has had issues with discrimination since the 1970s:

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, is the latest round of a conflict that dates back at least to 1973, when an organization representing black and female officers sued the San Francisco police force for discrimination in hiring and promotions. The city settled the case in 1979 by taking steps to increase diversity, including the “banding” of promotional test results so that all candidates who scored within a certain range were treated the same, allowing them to be judged on other factors such as experience and language skills.

Federal courts upheld banding in 1992 in the face of a lawsuit by the San Francisco Police Officers Association, which argued that the practice discriminated against whites.


A similar lawsuit in 2003 saw$1.6 million awarded to a group of white police officers by the city of San Francisco.


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