Police Officer Told To 'Tone Down Your Gayness' Gets Huge Settlement

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Police Officer Told To 'Tone Down Your Gayness' Gets Huge Settlement

Keith Wildhaber, a sergeant with St Louis county police, filed a lawsuit against the department in late 2017.

Keith Wildhaber, an officer with the St Louis county police, filed a lawsuit against the department in late 2017.

Lt. Keith Wildhaber, who is gay, claims that he was passed over for promotions because of his sexual orientation. Namely, that he was gay. In his lawsuit Wildhaber claimed that John Saracino, member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, told him that his superiors had "a problem with your sexuality."


If he wanted a promotion, Wildhaber was allegedly told to "tone down your gayness"

A jury in October awarded Lt. Keith Wildhaber nearly $20 million after agreeing that he was correct in his allegations. The two sides then went into mediation to try to reach a settlement.

Jurors in St Louis county court also heard that a police captain had called Wildhaber “fruity”. “I was sickened by it,” Wildhaber told the court last week, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch .

This week Lt. Keith Wildhaber settled with the county for $10.25 million, according to his attorneys.

In a statement from the St. Louis County press release stated: "I want to start by recognizing Lt. Wildhaber’s experience – no one should be made to feel less than by their employer because of who they love. Discrimination is not the path forward for us as people, nor is it the way we should get ahead as a county."

The $10.25M settlement was fair compromise to both Lt. Wildhaber and the County. It serves as compensation for what Lt. Wildhaber experienced, but it also saved the County at least $11M.

The jury had a message they told reporters, “If you discriminate you are going to pay a big price. … You can’t defend the indefensible.”


"Keith is of the highest character, and this litigation journey began when Keith became tired of enduring unlawful treatment," Russ Riggan and Sam Moore, attorneys for Wildhaber, said in a statement. "In doing so, he endured further and even more intense discrimination and retaliation."

After the lawsuit, Wildhaber was promoted to lieutenant and was named the commander of St. Louis County Police Department’s new Diversity and Inclusion Unit.


Before the trial started, Wildhaber and his lawyers had offered to settle the case for $850,000 plus an immediate promotion to lieutenant but their offer was ignored.

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