Cop told to ‘tone down the gay’ to get a promotion
A cop was told to ‘tone down the gay’ if he wanted a promotion, according to a discrimination suit filed against the St. Louis County Police Department.
Sgt Keith Wildhaber has served in the police force for more than two decades in St. Louis, Missouri.
However a lawsuit filed by Wildhaber alleges that his superiors have discriminated against him because he is gay, telling him to “tone down” his sexuality if he wants a promotion.
According to the lawsuit, obtained by the St Louis Post-Dispatch, the officer “has been subjected to unlawful employment discrimination by being denied multiple promotions” in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act, which outlaws anti-LGBT discrimination.
According to the suit, when he applied for a promotion to Lieutenant in 2014, a member of the Board of Police Commissioners advised him: “The command staff has a problem with your sexuality. If you ever want to see a white shirt [ie get a promotion] you should tone down your gayness.”
After opting not to follow the advice, Wildhaber was rejected for promotion, and has since been passed over several times when vacancies have been available despite having a clean disciplinary record, a medal of valor awarded for heroism, and decades of service.
Within months of raising a discrimination complaint in 2016, Wildhaber says he was moved onto night shifts in a different precinct 30 miles from his home.
The suit alleges that officials “refused to promote [him] because he does not conform to the County’s gender-based norms, expectations and/or preferences”.
The department has refused to comment on the suit, but the now-former board member named in the court documents denied advising Wildhaber to “tone down” his sexuality.
He told the newspaper: “I never had a conversation like that. I would never say anything like that. That’s not me.”