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.
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.
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.