12 White Men Sue San Francisco Police for Race, Sex Bias

San Francisco police cars sit parked in front of the Hall of Justice on Feb. 27, 2014, in San Francisco. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

San Francisco police cars sit parked in front of the Hall of Justice on Feb. 27, 2014, in San Francisco. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Twelve white male San Francisco police officers are suing the city, arguing they were passed over for promotions because of their race and gender.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports Wednesday that the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in federal court, is the latest round in a conflict that dates back decades. A 13th plaintiff who is now retired says she also was denied promotion, because she is a white lesbian.

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.

“The city — to this day — has a long-standing practice and custom of discriminating against white males in SFPD promotions to the rank of sergeant, lieutenant and captain,” said M. Greg Mullanax, the officers’ attorney, in the lawsuit.

Mullanax said that in 2016, the department promoted three black sergeants, even though their scores were lower than those of 11 white candidates who were denied promotions.

San Francisco settled a similar 2003 lawsuit for $1.6 million, but did not acknowledge wrongdoing.

Mullanax said the Police Officers Association contacted Chief William Scott but none of the officers who met with Scott received any “substantive response.”

John Coté, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the department “uses lawful, merit-based civil service examinations in making promotions.”

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