Former Female Chief Claims NYPD Created ‘Glass Ceiling' in Discrimination Lawsuit

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A former New York City Police Department chief who had been with the force for over three decades has filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the city and Commissioner Dermot Shea, claiming that the department created a "glass ceiling" to prevent women from advancing to senior roles.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Lori Pollock says she was one of five women in the NYPD who has ever held a three-star Chief ranking in the department's 175-year history. Despite her great accomplishments in over three decades, Pollock says she was forced to retire due to lack of advancement opportunities for women.

The court document detailed how newly appointed Shea ignored the input of high-ranking female managers like Pollock, who has been with the department since 1987, during a transition meeting in November 2019. Shea was apparently distracted by his phone for most of Pollock's presentation, according to the lawsuit.

At the meeting, Pollock (who held the position Chief of Bureau of Crime Control Strategies at the time and was the first and only woman to do so) made clear that she wished to be considered for Chief of Detectives, a role Shea had vacated to become Commissioner. She says that the Chief of Detectives position, now currently held by Rodney Harrison, was a natural transition for men who had been in her position but Pollock was never given the opportunity.

Despite being qualified to at least be considered for the promotion, Pollock says Shea demoted her in their next meeting on Dec. 6, 2019. The lawsuit said Shea told Pollock that she would be moved to Chief of Collaborative Policing, a position held by a civilian, Susan Herman.

Pollock later learned in an email that her new role was now to work under Chauncey Parker, a civilian, who would be in charge of newly formed Bureau of Community Partnerships.

In a Dec. 9 meeting with Parker, Pollock told him, "first I get dumped to this position and then you tell me you are my supervisor and don't you think that is a kick in my teeth?" Pollock said in the lawsuit that she, as well as other female NYPD members, was never considered for Parker's role or other high-ranking leadership roles even though she was more qualified.

The suit also claimed that Shea promoted men in other leadership positions without affording qualified women to interview for the jobs.

Shea later allegedly acknowledges to Pollock that “structurally her transfer was wrong," according to the court document.

Pollock eventually retired on Aug. 6 because she felt there was no way to advance her career.

In a statement to the Daily News, the NYPD said, “We will review the lawsuit when we are served. The contributions of women, both in leadership roles and in their representation in the uniformed and civilian ranks, across the Police Department, cannot be overestimated."

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