A police officer in the St. Louis area of Missouri is suing his department after failing to receive a promotion—after being told he needed to “tone down his gayness.”
Police sergeant Keith Wildhaber filed his lawsuit in early January alleging that, despite his “superior” performance scores and reviews, he was denied a move up to lieutenant because of prejudices in the department regarding sexual orientation.
Wildhaber refers to a conversation with former civilian police board member John Saracino, whom he claims said he needed to “tone down” his sexuality if he wanted to move up in the department. Saracino denies making the remarks, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Wildhaber is an Army veteran, has served the police department for more than 20 years, and won a medal of valor from the department in 1998.
No legislation, in Missouri or on the federal level, prevents employment discrimination against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity. While agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforce protections for those groups, the EEOC relies on an “interpretation” of civil rights law to do this.