NYPD loses gay discrimination case

NYPD car

The New York Police Department has said it will appeal a court ruling that found a senior officer guilty of homophobic discrimination.

Assistant Chief James Hall blocked the appointment of a gay police sergeant to the Youth Services section, then harassed two other officers who stood by their colleague.

Manhattan Supreme Court has ordered the department to pay $1.5m in compensation to the three.

Gulf War veteran Sgt. Robert Sorrenti, an experienced precinct and highway patrol officer, applied in 2001 for a position running an anti-drug programme for kids in Staten Island .

He was recommended for the job by Capt. Lori Albunio, head of Youth Services, and Lt Tom Connors, the officer in charge of operations.

The section runs the Police Athletic League and a range of programmes for young New Yorkers.

Asst. Chief Hall interviewed Sgt Sorrenti, asking him pointed questions about his marital status and asking where the former soldier liked to spend his spare time. Hall then told Sorrenti he had heard some “fucked up shit” about his personal life and would be rejecting him from a role working with young people.

Capt. Albunio and Lt. Connors, both of whom had served 18 years with the department, questioned Hall about his decision. He replied that “I won’t be able to sleep at night knowing he is going to be around kids” according to court documents quoted by The New York Post.

The jury ruled that Hall had picked another officer for the role because he thought that Sgt. Sorrenti was gay. The four week trial exposed ongoing discrimination in the NYPD, the largest police force in the USA. There are currently over 37,000 uniformed officers.

Albunio and Connors were also found to have been harassed after defending Sgt. Sorrenti. Capt. Albunio was removed from her command for no good reason.

Both long-serving officers exhausted all internal procedures for disciplining Asst. Chief Hall before turning to litigation. Eventually Albunio retired and Connors resigned.

“The fix was in from the time our complaints were first filed. There wasn’t any way that they were going to find Hall guilty of discrimination. In fact he has been promoted twice since the complaint against him was made” said Lt. Connors.