Former cop accuses NYPD of discrimination

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A former New York City police officer is preparing to sue the city for discrimination after he says the New York Police Department forced him to retire on disability due to a shoulder injury in 2016.

Greg Hamilton, who had just over 17 years on the job, says he feels healthy and fully capable of being a police officer.

At the same time NYPD doctors were keeping Hamilton on "restricted duty," the former officer said he even fought and won in a charity NYPD boxing match.

"I'm getting pushed off on a disability that I was like, 'I don't even have,'" Hamilton said.

According to a medical evaluation from June 2018, the Medical Board Police Pension Fund Article II, found Hamilton had arthritis and expressed concerns about two injuries to his left shoulder, as well as hip surgery.

Even though doctors noted Hamilton said "he did not have any residual pain," and could also lift, do push-ups, walk, run and perform squats without pain, they recommended him for Accident Disability Retirement.

In October 2018, the New York City Pension Fund notified Hamilton it had rejected the Medical Board's recommendation for Accident Disability Retirement and was instead placing him on "ordinary disability."

"You would think it's ridiculous that you're labeling me disabled," Hamilton said. "I didn't ask for any of this. I can clearly work."

Hamilton's medical file indicates the trouble started in 2008 when Hamilton sprained his left shoulder lifting a metal barrier at work.

Then in 2014, Hamilton had hip surgery and in 2016, Hamilton injured that same left shoulder again while lifting barriers over his head at work, requiring shoulder surgery.

NYPD doctors put him on "restricted duty."

About four months later, Hamilton's personal doctor wrote a note clearing him, "to return to full activity on 2/14/2017 without restrictions," but the NYPD doctors did not clear Hamilton for full duty.

Instead, they kept him on "restricted duty" and ultimately recommended him for disability retirement.

"It's very frustrating it is," Hamilton said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the NYPD indicated Hamilton, "signed a form that he agreed with the survey."

A "survey" refers to the documentation and findings surrounding a motion for disability retirement.

However, Hamilton provided recordings to Eyewitness News that he says capture him telling NYPD medical professionals just the opposite.

"I can sign this form today saying I do not agree with it? Because I don't," Hamilton is heard saying in one recording.

"Yes," replies the voice of a male, Hamilton indicated is a doctor for the NYPD.

In another recording, a female, Hamilton identified as a member of the Medical Board, is heard asking, "What is your take on what is going on?"

Hamilton replies, "I feel fine," and further expresses that he does not agree with the Board's decision that he cannot safely return to full duty.

Hamilton filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the NYPD of discrimination.

EEOC guidelines say that "a slightly increased risk" of harm is not reason enough to deny someone employment.

Title 1 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as quoted in a legal brief by a United States attorney further states that employers must "conduct an individualized assessment of the employee's present ability" to do the job. "Blanket policies" about medical conditions aren't OK.

"They absolutely need to change the whole process," Hamilton said. "It's obviously a corrupt system."

In the statement from the NYPD, a spokesperson also added, "P.O. Hamilton had an opportunity to appeal his finding but he did not file an appeal."

Hamilton's attorney, Edgar Rivera, responded to the NYPD statement with a statement of his own saying Hamilton is challenging the decision at the federal level.

"The NYPD ended Officer Greg Hamilton's career because of an alleged shoulder injury that did not prevent him in any way from doing the job he loves -- protecting and serving the people of New York City. With this "injury," Officer Hamilton regularly ran four miles a day and competitively boxed -even winning an NYPD boxing match. He was, and still could be, an incredible officer. Officer Hamilton disagreed with the results of the NYPD's medical survey and he has fought and will continue to fight, the NYPD's decision," wrote Rivera, a partner at The Harman Firm in New York City.

"For me personally, there was nothing better than working for the NYPD," Hamilton said. "That dream is shattered I guess."

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Police Pension Fund wrote, "Due to medical privacy concerns and laws, the Police Pension Fund does not comment on disability applications."

The New York City Law Department also declined comment.

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