SFPD sued for age bias

November 17, 2008 6:52:53 PM PST
Officer George Fogarty, 49, has worked as a San Francisco patrol officer for 29 years. He passed the inspector test 10 years ago; he is still waiting for the promotion.

"I have people that I trained when they first came into the police department and now they're sergeants, lieutenants, captains," Fogarty said.

Fogarty is among the 34 officers who filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday. They claim the police department has repeatedly passed up older officers and instead promoted younger officers with less experience.

Officer Michael Lewis is 59-years-old; he also wants to work as an inspector, a title that comes with a $10,000 pay raise.

"I have nothing against younger people, but the problem is that we have been doing the job and we have the experience and the time on the job and that seems to be counting for nothing at this point," Lewis said.

The suit names the city and county of San Francisco and Chief Heather Fong as defendants.

Representatives for the department and the city declined to comment, saying they had not digested the suit.

The officers claim the police department has engaged in "a policy and practice to promote younger, less qualified officers to the investigations bureau, passing over older officers."

In a city that experienced a record number of homicides last year and has had 94 this year, the department cannot afford to have inexperienced officers conducting investigations, the officers' attorney Richard Hoyer said.

"Common sense is that you send the person with experience in investigations to do good investigations," Hoyer said.

The officers who filed Monday's class action lawsuit are asking for back wages and an unspecified amount of money for what they say is the embarrassment and humiliation they suffered for being passed over so many times.


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