San Francisco Police Department settles sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit for $225,000

Posted by Gina Szeto-Wong | Feb 01, 2022 | 0 Comments

“Pervasive ‘Old Boys' Club' culture” drove one cop to sue San Francisco

A $225,000 settlement with gay SFPD officer Brendan Mannix was approved by the Board of Supervisors today, more than three years after he filed a lawsuit alleging that he was harassed and discriminated against because of his sexual orientation. 

Further, Mannix's lawsuit said he was retaliated against, and he accused the city of failing to prevent such harassment against members of the LGBT community. 

City Attorney spokeswoman Jen Kwart said Tuesday that, “given the inherent costs of continued litigation, we believe the proposed settlement is an appropriate resolution. There is no admission of liability on the part of SFPD or the city.” 

Mannix, who is still employed with the department, said in his 2018 civil lawsuit against the city that Sergeants Patrick Tobin and Lawrence McDevitt “frequently made comments about Mr. Mannix's sexual orientation and what they perceived to be his failure to conform to what a man should look and act like.” 

Attorneys representing Mannix did not provide a comment on the outcome of the lawsuit before press time. This story will be updated if they do. 

Mannix joined the police force in 2015 and spent a successful year at Richmond Station. He alleges in his lawsuit that the harassment began when he was transferred to Central Station, where his appearance was often mocked and he was told he was too “dramatic” or being a “queen.” 

When he tried to make the behavior stop, Mannix said he was laughed at by Tobin and McDevitt. Mannix also said he heard derogatory comments made about transgender people, and learned of a Muslim officer also facing Islamophobia within the department, but claimed he was disregarded when he tried to come forward about it. 

Tobin left the SFPD in 2017 and joined the Broadmoor Police Department, which has been under recent scrutiny for various instances of corruption. Tobin and McDevitt both also have histories of misconduct during their long careers with the SFPD. 

Eventually, Mannix said his calls for backup started going unheeded, including in one case where he pursued and apprehended a robbery suspect alone. Backup from his station never arrived to assist. 

At one point, court documents say, Mannix took a leave of absence during the summer of 2017, during which time Sgt. Tobin retired from the SFPD. 

When he returned from his leave, the discrimination continued. Mannix decided to file a formal complaint in late 2017 with the city's Department of Human Resources, Equal Employment Opportunity Division. But Mannix said the sergeant in charge of the complaint omitted most details of the allegations, and the EEO Division made no findings in his favor. 

Mannix ultimately filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which gave him the green light to sue the city in 2018. The city, in response, denied all of Mannix's allegations and any claims of injury he made in his lawsuit. 

The SFPD did not respond to a request for comment on whether Tobin, McDevitt, or any other officers named in the lawsuit ever faced any discipline in response to Mannix's accusations. This story will be updated if we receive a response. 

Mannix's settlement was reached in November, 2021. After today's vote, it now awaits final approval by the Board of Supervisors. 

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Gina Szeto-Wong

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