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U.S. cop told to ‘tone down his gayness’ wins nearly $20M in discrimination case

In this Oct. 24, 2019 file photo, St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber returns from lunch break to the St. Louis County courthouse on the third day of his discrimination case against the county in Clayton, Mo. .
In this Oct. 24, 2019 file photo, St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber returns from lunch break to the St. Louis County courthouse on the third day of his discrimination case against the county in Clayton, Mo. . (Cristina M. Fletes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

A jury has recommended a St. Louis County police sergeant be awarded nearly $20 million after finding the department discriminated against him because he’s gay.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the jury’s verdict came Friday in a 2017 lawsuit brought by Sgt. Keith Wildhaber.

Wildhaber testified that he was told to “tone down his gayness” to secure a promotion to lieutenant.

READ MORE: Gay couple sues U.S. for denying citizenship to twin son born in Canada

Wildhaber said the remark made him feel like he had “been punched in the gut.” He testified that he thought he would be evaluated for the position based on his body of work, “not the fact that I was gay.”

Wildhaber was passed over 23 times for promotion. He said he also was transferred from the Affton precinct against his wishes after filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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Activists gather in NY as Supreme Court hears LGBTQ job discrimination case
Activists gather in NY as Supreme Court hears LGBTQ job discrimination case

Wildhaber sued the department for employment discrimination in 2017.

The jury awarded Wildhaber $1.9 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages on the discrimination claim.

It added $999,000 in actual damages and $7 million in punitive damages for the retaliation claim.