Cop told to 'tone down' his 'gayness' wins $19M

A Missouri court has awarded a police sergeant US$19m in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the St. Louis County Police Department.

Cop told to 'tone down' his 'gayness' wins $19M

A Missouri court has awarded a police sergeant US$19m in a discrimination lawsuit filed against the St. Louis County Police Department.

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber sued the police department in 2017 for allegedly denying his promotion because he was gay.

In his complaint, Wildhaber cited an incident in 2014 when a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners told him to “tone down” his gayness if he wanted to be promoted to lieutenant.

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The board member was identified as John Saracino, who allegedly informed the police sergeant about the command staff’s issue with his homosexuality. “If you ever want to see a white shirt [i.e. get a promotion], you should tone down your gayness,” Saracino supposedly told Wildhaber.

After a week-long trial, a St. Louis County jury voted for Wildhaber to be given recompense.

Local officials are now calling for changes in the St. Louis County Police Department.

“[The] time for leadership changes has come and change must start at the top,” said Sam Page, St. Louis County Executive. “An announcement on those appointments is forthcoming.”

Gender discrimination in the workplace continues to be a concern across countries. In a 2018 survey in Australia, for instance, more than half (54%) of employees said gender inequality still exists in their workplace.

The issue also isn’t limited to the experiences of heterosexual men and women: members of the LGBTQ community are also subjected to gender discrimination.

Dawn Hough, director of Pride Inclusion Programs at LGBTQ health advocacy group ACON, said fear of social exclusion and discrimination often force many LGBTQ workers to hide their sexual orientation in their workplace. This leaves them more vulnerable to bouts of anxiety and depression.

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