Public AffairsGovernment / February 5, 2014

Police And Fire Promotions Discrimination Suit Dismissed

Sam Klemet

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals says the way Indianapolis police and fire departments promote officers is not discriminatory.

Two lawsuits allege that the process has a disparate impact on black candidates.

"There have been complaints about discrimination both in hiring and promotion for decades now," Attorney Gregory Godson, who worked on behalf of the officers.  

The suits were filed by 36 officers who claimed they were overlooked for promotions between 2007 and 2009 and by a group of 20 who say they were not given promotions between 2010 and 2011.

The Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the claims, Tuesday.

Godson says he is disappointed by the decision and believes it could hurt future minority recruiting.

"When prospective candidates are considering whether Indianapolis is a good place for public safety, they will certainly take into account the difficulty that many have had being promoted and might not think that it is such a good career choice," he said.

IMPD and the Department of Public Safety say hiring a more diverse force is a priority and Godson says positive changes resulted from the suit even being filed.

"There does appear to be more satisfaction with (promoting minorities)," he said. "We have not been told that this has had an effect on the process, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did have some positive effect on that."

Godson says it’s possible to try to appeal the case to the U.S Supreme Court.

Read the ruling here