Missouri cop told to 'tone down your gayness' reaches $10 million settlement and gets promotion
A Missouri policeman has been promoted and awarded $10 million by a jury, after filing a discrimination suit against a superior who allegedly told him to "tone down" his "gayness."
According to 'historic' papers filed on the morning of Tuesday, February 13 in a St. Louis County court, Lt. Keith Wildhaber and his lawyers offered to settle the case for $850,000, plus an immediate promotion of Wildhaber to lieutenant, which the previous County Executive Steve Stenger reportedly ignored. The St Louis County PD is now required to fork over $10 million by January 31st, 2021.
Take a look at this video on the court case:
Per ABC News, Wildhaber claimed in his suit that in 2014 John Saracino (then a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners) told him that the police command staff had "a problem with [his] sexuality."
Wildhaber claimed that Saracino allegedly advised him to, "tone down" his "gayness" if he wanted to climb the career ladder. Saracino has denied these allegations.
Wildhaber further alleged that St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar repeatedly passed him over for promotion, despite his immaculate record, strong resumé, and good performance record, as a result of his sexual identity.
Commenting on the result, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page stated: "I think it's really important for those of us in St. Louis County to recognize this is a tough time for the county, but we have to recognize that discrimination isn't right. By settling this lawsuit, the county recognizes that what Lt. Wildhaber went through was not right."
Belmar is due to retire in April, although it has been denied that this is due to Wildhaber's suit. Commenting on the decision in a statement per ABC News, he said: "It has been an honor to work with and for the women and men of the St. Louis County Police Department.
He added: "The dedication, sacrifice, and bravery of those that work for this department is unmatched. The citizens and businesses of St. Louis County deserve nothing but the best, and I firmly believe they receive that from us every day."
Belmar has now created a Diversity and Inclusion Unit within the police department, which Wildhaber is now in charge of.