Black Intelligence Detectives Bring Federal Suit Over Bias in NYPD Promotions

  • September 25, 2017

The law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (ECBAWM) and the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a federal class-action lawsuit on behalf of Black detectives who were denied promotions for years within the elite Intelligence Division of the NYPD. For well over a decade the division has maintained a subjective promotions policy, administered by white supervisors, who refuse to promote deserving Black detectives.

“Minority communities have for decades distrusted the NYPD, and for good reason,” said Elizabeth Saylor, a partner at ECBAWM and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Pervasive discrimination against Black detectives only deepens that distrust. The NYPD’s discriminatory culture needs to change.”

The lead plaintiffs in the case are Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens, as well as Sara Coleman, widow of Theodore Coleman. The three detectives each joined the Intelligence Division in 2001 and assisted with the cleanup and investigation of the September 11 attacks. They tracked hundreds of leads and suspects. In spite of their achievements and strong recommendations from their direct supervisors, they were repeatedly passed up for promotion because of their race.

Read the EEOC charge here,  and the EEOC finding here. Also, read the DOJ Right to Sue letter here, the federal complaint here, and a press release here.

To read recent coverage of these detectives’ experiences in NYPD Intel:
“Black Detectives in New York Were Bypassed for Promotions, Panel Finds,” New York Times
“Discrimination Inside the N.Y.P.D.,” New York Times
“Black intelligence detectives suing NYPD over alleged promotions bias,” WABC TV
“Detectives sue NYPD, say they weren’t promoted because they’re black,” Spectrum NY1
“Black detectives sue NYPD for alleged racial discrimination,” New York Daily News
“Black NYPD detectives claim race kept them from being promoted,” New York Post

In August 2018, Elizabeth Saylor was quoted in the New York Daily News discussing this case and new allegations of racial discrimination in the NYPD Intelligence Division.

ECBAWM’s Elizabeth Saylor, Earl Ward, and Jessica Clarke, along with Chris Dunn with the NYCLU, represent Sara Coleman, the widow of Detective Theodore Coleman, and Detectives Jon McCollum and Roland Stephens.