A federal jury awarded two PBA members damages totaling $151,000, plus attorney’s fees, for the harm they suffered to their lives and careers after the NYPD Counseling Services Unit (CSU) wrongly placed them into alcohol abuse treatment programs. A third member involved in the same suit filed in the Southern District had previously settled with the City for $75,000, plus attorney’s fees.
PBA president Patrick J. Lynch said:
“This is an important victory in our long-running campaign against the mistreatment of police officers by the Department’s alcohol and substance abuse counseling unit. These officers were referred to the Counseling Services Unit (CSU) based on false allegations, and they were put on modified duty, deprived of overtime or had their careers negatively impact by the incorrect diagnosis.
“Since the PBA began challenging these decisions in 2011, a state oversight agency has inspected the CSU and ordered remedial measures and the unit was transferred (following the retirement of Sgt. Daniel Sweeney, the unit’s former commanding officer, in 2014) to the Medical Division. We believe these changes are important, as they bring the CSU under the oversight of doctors, who must adhere to medical ethical standards in their decision-making, rather than basing decisions on the whims of the department or an unqualified individual.”
All three police officers were referred to the Counseling Services Unit based on false allegations. The jury found for the two officers who won at trial that the Department had violated a City law that protects employees from unfair treatment based on a misperceived disability. One member was awarded $46,000, while the other received $105,000.