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Police officer who was told to 'tone down his gayness' wins lawsuit

Sergeant Keith Wildhaber won $19 million in damages from Missouri’s St Louis County Police Department

2019-10-29

Words: Steve Brown

A police officer who was told to ‘tone down his gayness’ for a promotion has won $19 million in damages.

Sergeant Keith Wildhaber, who works within Missouri’s St Louis County Police Department, filed a lawsuit against his employer back in 2017 after he didn’t get promoted to lieutenant despite 15 years of service.

According to his lawsuit, a member of the Board of Police Commissioners told him: “The command staff has a problem with your sexuality.

“If you ever want to see a white shirt, you should tone down your gayness.”

After being passed over for promotion 23 times, he also added when he filed a discrimination complaint he was transferred, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

Last week, a jury in St Louis County Circuit Court sided with the complaint after seeing testimonies from other senior police officials which was contradicted by other evidence.

County Executive Sam Page said in a statement: “Our police department must be a place where every community member and every officer is respected and treated with dignity.

“Employment decisions in the department must be made on merit and who is best for the job.”

The St. Louis County Police Union said: “While we are extremely embarrassed of the alleged actions of some of our Department’s senior commanders, we look forward to the healing process that can begin to take place now that this has been heard in open court.”