Target: Col. Jon Belmar, Chief of Police of St. Louis County.
Goal: Demand reparation to police officer allegedly discriminated against and denied promotion for not looking male enough.
An award-winning police officer recently claimed that he was passed over for a promotion because he was considered not male-looking enough to the lieutenant post. Sgt. Keith Wildhaber filed a lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department, demanding compensation, back pay, promotion and other damages. The lawsuit is a recent example of the longstanding struggle for equality in the workplace and reminds us that there is still a long way to go.
Sgt. Wildhaber’s performance reviews have exceeded standards over the years. Hired by the Police Department in 1994, the St. Louis police officer rose through the ranks with honors until 2011. When he was still a rookie, he was given a medal for rescuing a man trapped in a burning vehicle. However, when Sgt. Wildhaber became one of the top candidates to move up to lieutenant, he was denied the promotion. He claims that he was told that the command staff had a problem with his sexuality. After filing a discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, Sgt. Wildhaber was transferred to a different precinct and assigned to the night shift. The lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department states that the sergeant was advised to “tone down [his] gayness.”
Sgt. Wildhaber has proven throughout the years that he is suitable for a higher post. Employment discrimination laws state that everyone should have equal opportunities and evaluations based solely on their merit. Sign the petition below to demand justice for this alleged discrimination.
Dear Col. Belmar,
Employment discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age, consisting of a set of federal and state statutes. Allegations that an accomplished officer such as Sgt. Keith Wildhaber was passed over for a promotion — with superiors reportedly saying that he does not look male enough for the lieutenant post — suggest that your department is not heeding these laws.
For years, Sgt. Wildhaber has had outstanding performances, and nothing in his file would deny that. Yet, he claims being told to “tone down [his] gayness” if he wants to get a promotion. This alleged conduct is unlawful and completely unacceptable. I urge you to provide Sgt. Wildhaber with a new post as a lieutenant, end discrimination in your department and uphold the principles of the law.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Daniel Schwen