A lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Tuesday by 13 San Francisco Police Department employees spells out its accusations in no uncertain terms.
The department has "an obscure and biased promotional process" with a pattern of promoting "lower-scoring candidates" who happen to be African-American or female, according to the lawsuit.
"This is not about 'officers against officers,' but about an administration trickling its discriminatory practices and tactics, and forcing it on the people below them," plaintiff Lt. Rick Schiff said.
Schiff said he is one of the most experienced, and decorated members of the SFPD and the first plaintiff listed in the lawsuit.
"I'm a 34-year-old veteran. I have a son and daughter in this police department. I have one goal in mind out of this: It would be great to get the promotion that I deserve, but I think my number one desire would be to see every officer in the department treated equitably," Schiff said.
SFPD and Mayor's Office referred NBC Bay Area to the city attorney for comment.
A spokesperson told NBC Bay Area, in part, SFPD uses a "lawful, merit-based" examinations process that is "designed to provide qualified individuals with the chance for advancement while ensuring fair treatment without regard to race, gender, religion, age or other status."
But the San Francisco Police Officer's Association President Tony Montoya confirmed to NBC Bay Area a history of promotion controversies, and said this "red flag" caught his attention in November 2017.
"During a general membership meeting, the chief made comments to the audience that he was using race and gender as a factor in making promotions, which is illegal to use race and gender for hiring purposes," Montoya said.