SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Thirteen present and former San Francisco police officers sued the city in federal court Tuesday, claiming that they have been discriminated against in promotions because they are white.

Twelve plaintiffs are current officers who allege they were passed over for promotions to sergeant, lieutenant or captain because they are white males. The other plaintiff is a retired sergeant who contends she was passed over for promotion to lieutenant because she is a white lesbian.

The lawsuit claims violations of federal and state anti-discrimination laws and constitutional rights. It asks for an injunction barring the alleged bias and for compensatory and punitive financial awards.

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The defendants include the city, the Police Department, the Police Commission, Mayor London Breed, former Mayor Mark Farrell, Police Chief Bill Scott and former Chief Greg Suhr.

John Cote, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said in a statement, “The SFPD uses lawful, merit-based, competitive civil service examinations in making promotions.

“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,” Cote said.

The lawsuit alleges the city uses an “an obscure and biased promotional process” that makes it possible for officers who score lower on examinations to be promoted over higher-scoring candidates.

The process is based in part on a system known as banding, in which candidates who receive statistically similar examination results are placed in the same band or pool for consideration for promotion. The city can then use other factors such as education and experience to make promotions of candidates within the band.

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The lawsuit alleges the city uses the process to promote a higher percentage of minority and female candidates than would be promoted in a strict rank-order system based on scores.

The procedure was developed as part of the implementation of a 1979 consent decree that settled a discrimination lawsuit filed by Officers for Justice, an association of black officers, in 1973.

The consent decree terminated in 1998, and the lawsuit claims “it is no longer a proper rationale for race-conscious promotions made under a banding scheme.”

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Comments (32)
  1. Lance Mannion says:

    Not many details in the story so it’s hard to comment, but I would assume promotions are based on more than straight test scores. I would think job performance would be a bigger factor than a standardized test. Being a good manager, leader, boss, isn’t something that can be captured by a written test.

    1. Chris Appel says:

      LOL if races reversed you’d be SCREAMING, “racism!”

  2. Dave Turner says:

    Why would anybody think otherwise, I mean it’s San Francisco for God’s sakes.

  3. Dave Hardesty says:

    Is this really an unexpected event? It’s been happening since I first arrived in the area in 1969. The correct term is ‘Reverse Discrimination’ and it was employed by all the military bases in the area.

  4. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.” – Chief Justice Roberts, in the Supreme Court’s 2007 Parents Involved decision

  5. Matthew A Crawford says:

    It’s still OK to be whyte.💀

  6. dispatchdude says:

    What a surprise. SF doesn’t like whites, only illegal aliens.

  7. Matthew A Crawford says:


  8. Jose Ortega says:

    Fire the complainants because they are playing the race card. The days of white privilege are coming to an end.

    1. If you ever need a life-saving operation, I hope that your medical team is comprised of people who were employed based on race rather than skill.

  9. Mark Nord says:

    I am surprised they are not being labeled white supremacist or Trump supporters. The entire liberal movement is designed to suppress freedom of speech especially if you are white. for some reason minorities do not want equality they want revenge even upon those that have done nothing wrong. There must be a way to remove race from the equation there is only one race the human race.It is not possible to change the past but learning from it is a necessity.

  10. Thomas Geraghty says:

    Whenever tested in court and occasion, “affirmative action” (selecting people on the basis of race) has been found to be discriminatory and runs afoul of civil rights law. We cannot have equality before the law, and at the same time favor people for a job, because of their race. If someones ancestors were slaves, it does not entitle them to be given a job over a more qualified person.

  11. Honestly, you’d think that this would be fairly easy to check… Look at the racial make-up of San Francisco, look at the racial make-up of the police force, then look at the racial make-up of the people being promoted over X years. The three should roughly coincide.

    Facts should trump feelings in cases like this.

  12. Ed Kopp says:

    It’s time for the Democrats new race laws to go the way of their old race laws. No one benefits from undermining the quality of [any] service by hiring based on qualifications other then core competence. Especially when it comes to first responders.

  13. Hugh Murray says:

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed quotas and hiring and promotions to achieve racial balance. The EEOC sabotaged the law to impose quotas, which in reality meant anti-white racism and anti-male sexism. Equal rights and opportunity no longer exist in America, and if you defend and demand equal rights for whites, you are accused of racism and hate speech. In the name of civil rights, whites are denied them, and denied equal opportunity. America has become the land where all are equal, but some are more equal than others.