February 13, 2020

St. Louis police officer receives $10.25 million after being told to ‘tone down’ his ‘gayness’

By Alexandra Kelley

St. Louis County has agreed to a settlement payout of $10.25 million with a gay police lieutenant who alleges he was passed over for promotion up to 23 times and was told to “tone down his gayness,” according to an Associated Press (AP) story.

Now a lieutenant, the plaintiff Keith Wildhaber finalized the settlement as the St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar announced his retirement from the force.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Wildhaber was originally awarded $20 million by jurors after they learned of the discrimination and verbal abuse, in addition to Wildhaber being transferred to a precinct farther from his home in retaliation for filing a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Wildhaber reportedly settled so as to keep a larger share of the award.

Earlier in April, Wildhaber actually offered a settlement of $850,000 and a long-awaited promotion to lieutenant. The county’s lawyers did not accept this and went to trial with the defense that the Missouri Human Rights Act does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The county lost and will now pay and additional $9.4 million.