Taking his cue from fired radio host Don Imus, a police sergeant insulted three officers by calling them "hos" during a recent roll call at a stationhouse, the women claimed Monday.
"We felt violated and humiliated," Officer Tronnette Jackson said at a news conference outside police headquarters in Manhattan.
A lawyer for the women said that a discrimination complaint had been filed in federal court alleging the sergeant used the term against Jackson and Karen Nelson, who are black, and Maria Gomez, who is Hispanic, on April 15. At the same time, another officer chimed in by calling them "nappy-headed hos," said the lawyer, Bonita Zelman.
"The Imus virus had spread and infected the New York City police department," Zelman said.
Police officials have responded to the claims by transferring the sergeant and the officer out of Brooklyn's 70th Precinct and by condemning any use of racist or sexist remarks.
"This language is unacceptable under any circumstances and even more egregious when it comes from individuals in positions of authority," Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a statement.
CBS Radio fired Imus from his nationally syndicated radio program on April 12, eight days after he described the Rutgers university women's basketball team, which includes eight black women, as "nappy-headed hos."
Imus' longtime producer, Bernard McGuirk, also lost his job over the exchange. He was the first to use the word "hos" on the April 4 broadcast as the two discussed the NCAA women's championship game between Rutgers and Tennessee.
In a separate incident involving the New York Police Department, a Queens narcotics detective said a sergeant used similar language while talking to her on April 12.
Detective Aretha Williams said the supervisor, now on leave, told her not to give him "lip" or he'd call her "a nappy-headed ho."
The comment "cut me to the core," Williams, a 15-year veteran of the police force, said Sunday. "I find it disrespectful, racist, sexist. It can't be tolerated."
All four women have filed complaints with the NYPD's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity.