The detectives joined the unit, which is responsible for investigating terrorism and other crimes, in 2001.
They say they had track records of solid investigative work but were passed over for promotions. They believe it is because they are black; most of the officers in the division are white, as are all the higher-ranking officers.
The police department didn’t immediately comment on the allegations.
All three have since retired. They filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found that black detectives don’t get equal treatment. The Justice Department declined to file a civil rights lawsuit. The New York Civil Liberties Union took up the case.