Lawsuit filed against City, SFPD alleging discrimination in police promotions

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The lawsuit was filed by 13 white officers against the SFPD and the City, charging that they had been discriminated against during the promotions process.

"Appears there's a lot of favoritism taken place. And I think most of it is based on race and gender," said Sgt. Thomas Walsh, who was passed over for promotion to lieutenant.

"I'm on the top 20 names on the list. I've been skipped twice," said Sgt. Brian Greer, who also scored high, ranking 17 on the Lieutenant's test. "I was given no reasoning,," he said. "I was given no information at all about why I was passed over in the promotion."

"My clients are not mad at other police officers. We're just upset with the system. We don't think it's transparent," added Greg Mullanax, attorney for the cops.

Lt. Ric Schiff is ranked twelfth on the Captain's promotions list. He too was passed over.

"This is a 40-year pattern of discrimination."

Promotions to Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains are based on civil service exams. In certain cases, the Chief can factor in special skills like education, training, awards-- it's something called secondary criteria.

Gender and race cannot be considered.

The lawsuit alleges Chief William Scott has been doing just that.

"At the end of that legitimate promotional process, the Chief and Administration bastardize the process to pick who they want. Why give an exam in the first place," said Lt. Schiff.

The lawsuit points out that in 2016, The US Department of Justice said in its review of the SFPD, that "the promotion process is not transparent ...that it created a level of distrust of the process."

The officers in the lawsuit say this is not about race or gender. That it's about a level playing field.

"The reason they came up with civil service exams like this was to avoid the nepotism, favoritism and racial inequality to begin with," said Sgt. Greer.

Police Union President Tony Montoya says his group is not a party to the suit but it also wants the exams to be the sole criteria in promotions.

"If you promote those who scored the highest first and move down the list, you can't go wrong."

The SFPD referred us to the City Attorney's office. Its spokesman issued a statement which says it is reviewing the lawsuit and that the Police Department uses civil service exams and not race, gender, age or religion as criteria for promotions.

We also reached out the Officers for Justice, the African-American police group, but they have yet to respond.
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