NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Startling charges of discrimination have been made by two of the highest ranking women in the NYPD.
They say they got the boot because they are older, female, and white.
The two, who have filed a federal lawsuit suit against the city, the police commissioner, and his first deputy.
They sat down for an exclusive interview with CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer to detail their claims.
Joanne Jaffe was the first female three-star Chief of Community Affairs. Diana Pizzuti was the first female Chief of Personnel.
Both women are white. One is 60 years-old and the other 61. Both were fired on the same day by the NYPD.
“Shocked me,” Jaffe said.
“I was stunned,” Pizzuti said.
They were given just days to clean out their desks by Commissioner James O’Neill and First Deputy Benjamin Tucker.
Commissioner O’Neill spoke and said four sentences. The sentences were scripted:
We’re going in a new direction… we want new leadership team… I want you to retire.
The move came a week after Mayor de Blasio’s second inauguration, amid questions about whether he would keep O’Neill. He did. The decision coming as the commissioner embarked on a massive shake-up.
O’Neill got rid of Jaffe and Pizzuti and two other three-star chiefs.
It enabled O’Neill to announce a dozen promotions, including more minority officers to push neighborhood policing.
“He needed to move four white older chiefs out because he made a deal with the mayor and his wife,” Jaffe alleges.
Jaffe claims the deal included making Terence Monahan Chief of Department and promoting Assistant Chief Rodney Harrison to Chief of Patrol.
Pizzuti says she and Jaffe filed federal discrimination lawsuits – charging age, race, and sex discrimination.
“On principal. Joanne and I have been leaders within the department leaders,” Pizzuti said.
The NYPD vigorously denied the allegations, calling the suit “baseless” however, an NYPD spokesman refused CBS2’s request for an interview.
Instead, the department issued the following statement:
“The police commissioner set clear standards for every executive in a leadership position at the NYPD – be part of the team, embrace and support neighborhood policing, and treat people that you work with each and every day with respect. The people on the senior staff today display these qualities, and the commissioner applauds these executives for their leadership.”
Other commissioners, including O’Neill’s predecessor William Bratton, have also made staff changes in the past. Jaffe and Pizzuti say canning three-star women chiefs is unprecedented.
“It’s just plain foul. People who did that are stomping on the traditions of a major New York institution for temporary political advantage,” attorney John Moscow said.
The women want a jury trial and monetary damages.
A spokesperson for Bill de Blasio said “the mayor is not involved in these decisions – period.”
The NYPD is the second major city agency hit with discrimination charges. Two months ago, four top ranking women in the Department of Education made similar allegations against de Blasio and his appointees.