An Irish American police sergeant from Troy, NY has filed a discrimination complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. The 'Collar City' policeman says he was passed up for a promotion on account of his ethnicity.
Sergeant John Coons stated in his complaint that department Chief John Tedesco blatantly favors Italian Americans and personal friends when making hiring and promotion decisions.
“The city of Troy is aware of Chief John Tedesco’s unlawful employment practice and either condones, acquiesces, and/or actively participates in them,” Coons charges, according to the Albany Times Union.
“I and other police officers who are not Italian-American males or part of Chief John Tedesco’s political affiliated circle of friends suffer professionally and financially.”
New York City attorney Eric Sanders, who previously represented African American sergeant Anthony Conyers in a discrimination suit against the same department, is representing Sgt. Coons.
Sgt. Coons said he had previously supported a promotion for Sgt. Conyers, the only African American officer in the 130-person department, and claims this was also used against him when he was seeking a promotion.
“Diversity and open-competitiveness seem to be flawed concepts under Chief John Tedesco,” Sanders said in a statement. “[But] diversity and open-competitiveness arguably support a more efficient approach to modern policing.”
Three out of the last five sergeants promoted to captain have Italian American surnames, and, according to the complaint, four out of the five were ranked lower than Coons on the Civil Service list for captain.
Coons, who was promoted to sergeant ten years ago, has been ranked second on the captain’s promotional list, but was passed over three times for a promotion: in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
After he was passed up in 2011, the Troy police department conducted an internal affairs investigation on Coons when he appeared intoxicated and acted belligerently after he wasn’t promoted. The promotion went instead to Italian American officer Joseph Centanni, who scored lower than Coons on the captain test.
Coons is seeking retroactive pay and benefits. He also wants to see changes to the process by which policemen are promoted.
Attorney Sanders said he anticipates filing a new racial discrimination complaint on behalf of Conyers because of the department’s failure to provide training and other issues.
“The city does not comment on pending litigation,” said Michael Morris, a spokesman for Mayor Lou Rosamilia.