Officers for Justice
Officers for Justice was a precedent setting sex and race employment discrimination lawsuit filed in 1973 against the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). The lawsuit alleged that the SFPD had engaged in a pattern of employment discrimination on the basis of race, sex and national origin. The lawsuit was settled by Consent Decree in 1979. As a result of the lawsuit, many rules and selection criteria for employment at the SFPD have been declared illegal, including written examinations, minimum height requirements, and the strength test.
Our most recent involvement has centered on the Police Department’s appointment of Sergeants to perform Inspector jobs in August 2007. This action was, in our view, a violation of the OFJ Consent Decree that Public Advocates is charged with monitoring and local civil service law. Out of an obligation to OFJ class members who are eligible for Inspector positions by virtue of being on a 1998 Inspector eligibility list still governed by the decree, we sought to resolve this matter before the San Francisco Civil Service Commission (CSC), which is charged with upholding the civil service merit system.
After appearing numerous times before the CSC and after settlement negotiations failed, the Commission announced its decision on the merits on January 16th. The Commission agreed with us on the key merits issue—that Sergeants had been improperly assigned to Inspector jobs in violation of civil service rules—but the CSC rendered insufficient relief. The Commission failed to void the Sergeant appointments and replace them with Inspectors off the active eligibility list as it was required to do by both the Consent Decree and civil service laws.
We brought a motion to enforce the Consent Decree in federal court and appended to that a direct appeal of the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) ruling on April 16, 2009 before Judge Charles Breyer. Judge Breyer ruled against plaintiffs on the motion to enforce the consent decree finding that the Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter. Further, Judge Breyer signaled that the state claims appealing the CSC’s ruling were a state matter. We voluntarily dismissed the state claims and filed a petition in San Francisco Superior Court on August 5, 2009. Simultaneously, we appealed Judge Breyer’s ruling on the motion to enforce the consent decree and briefing was completed in February 2009.
In the San Francisco Superior Court, newly-appointed Judge Jeffrey Ross heard and denied a series of motions: the City’s demurrer in October 2009, our petition for a TRO/preliminary injunction to prevent the Chief of Police’s appointments of new Sergeants to more Inspector positions in November 2009, and finally our petition on the writ in January 2010. With his decision denying Petitioners’ writ, Judge Ross dismissed all claims and entered judgment in May 2010. Petitioners subsequently filed an appeal.