Posted on June 13, 2019

San Francisco Police Officers Sue City, Claiming Bias Against Whites in Promotions

KPIX-TV, June 11, 2019

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.

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.


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.

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.