(NPR) — A jury awarded nearly $20 million to a Missouri police sergeant who said the St. Louis County Police Department discriminated against him because he is gay — and then retaliated against him when he filed a discrimination complaint.
Sgt. Keith Wildhaber sued the St. Louis County Police Department in 2017, alleging he was passed over for promotions because he is gay. A jury agreed and awarded him nearly $20 million on Friday.
Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, who joined the department in 1994, filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging that he was passed over for 23 promotions in 5 1/2 years because he is gay. In the weeklong trial, Wildhaber testified that one county official told him he would need to “tone down his gayness” to secure a promotion to lieutenant.
The jury deliberated for about three hours and delivered its verdict last Friday, awarding Wildhaber $1.9 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages on the discrimination claim. Jurors also added $999,000 in actual damages and $7 million in punitive damages for the retaliation claim.