St. Louis police officer files lawsuit on being asked to 'tone down his gayness' to get promoted

The lawsuit was filed on January 10 in Circuit Court, names St. Louis County as a defendant and seeks compensation, back pay, promotion and other damages.

A police sergeant at the St. Louis County Police Department, Missouri, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his senior officer accusing him of being biased with the promotion procedure as he claimed that he had been asked to tone down his  ‘gayness’ in order to get promoted.

Sergeant Keith Wildhaber is an award winning police officer and had won several awards over the past years. In 2014, he was among the nine candidates who were eligible to be promoted then. But he and one of his colleagues were denied promotion citing performance issues, as stated in the lawsuit.

Further, in the same year, Sgt. Wildhaber was informed by the department supervisor and a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners, John Saracino that the command staff has some problem with his sexuality. As stated in the suit, Saracino said,”If you ever want to get promoted, you should tone down your gayness.”

The lawsuit was filed on January 10 in Circuit Court, names St. Louis County as a defendant and seeks compensation, back pay, promotion and other damages.

However, when the American media tried to contact the department supervisor John Saracino, he asserted that he didn’t speak all those words. The American media quoted him as saying,”I never had such conversations with Wildhaber. I would never say anything like that.”

In April 2016, Wildhaber had also filed a complaint of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and alleged discrimination in employment on the basis of his gender. A month later, he was transferred to some other region and was asked to do night shifts.

As stated in the suit, Sgt. Wildhaber “does not fit the stereotypical norms of what a ‘male’ should be” and it has “failed to take any action to investigate or take corrective action” in response to his multiple complaints.

As reported by the American media and stated in the suit, after serving four years in the Army, Sgt. Wildhaber joined the police department as a security officer in the year 1994. In 1997, he became a patrolman after attending the Police Academy and later he became a detective in 2006 and then sergeant in 2011. He had won a Medal of Valorfor saving a man trapped in a burning car in a commuter parking lot in November 1998, when he was still a rookie, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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