News Round-Up: August 3, 2020

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber (image via Wildhaber)

Some news items you might have missed:

St. Louis Today: Openly gay St. Louis County police lieutenant Keith Wildhaber (above), who in February settled a workplace discrimination lawsuit against the police department for $10.25 million, said Friday that he is stepping down from command of its Diversity and Inclusion unit. In a Facebook post he wrote, “The dog whispers of a gay, white guy being unable to lead Diversity and Inclusion were loud and clear. Systemic racism is alive and well.”

Cosmopolitan: James Corden, currently the host of The Late Late Show, might be in talks to replace Ellen DeGeneres on her daytime talk show. The possible shake-up comes shortly after toxic work environment claims were made against Ellen’s longtime show.

Vimeo: Snowflake, a new film that depicts the fear of a nation when a dictatorial politician is suddenly thrust into the White House, will begin streaming on Vimeo on August 4. While most of the characters in the film are gay, Snowflake shows how their other identities – age, race, and their economic status – shape their individual views. Check out the trailer below.

The Advocate: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who’s faced criticism for anti-transgender comments over the past year, signed a letter supporting Idaho’s law barring trans females from competing in women’s and girls’ interscholastic sports. The NCAA, which has already announced its opposition to the law, is considering potentially moving the March Madness men’s basketball tournament from Boise.

Deadline: Pose star Angelica Ross has inked a development & production deal with Pigeon, the production company behind OWN’s Iyanla: Fix My Life. The transgender actress and activist will work with Pigeon to develop and co-produce scripted and non-scripted content.

AFP Fact Check: Donald Trump went on a voter fraud Twitter rant after the Nevada legislature approved mail-in-voting for all registered voters. But AFP’s fact-checking showed actual voter fraud is minuscule to non-existent.

Missouri Cop Told To ‘Tone Down Gayness’ Agrees To $10M Settlement

Lt. Keith Wildhaber of the St. Louis County Police Department, who was awarded a $20 million judgment in a sexual orientation discrimination lawsuit last October, has agreed to a $10.25 million settlement.

It’s believed the county planned on appealing the ruling, and so Wildhaber came to this agreement to avoid a protracted appeals process.

You may recall Wildhaber, who is openly gay, sued St. Louis County after being passed over for promotion 23 times. Wildhaber said he was being discriminated against due to his sexual orientation.

In the lawsuit, Wildhaber alleged a member of the St. Louis County Board of Police Commissioners told him that if he wanted to get promoted, “you should tone down your gayness.”

More from ABC News:

According to the settlement papers filed Tuesday morning in a St. Louis County court, Wildhaber is to receive a little more than $6.4 million and his attorneys will get about $3.8 million.

Prior to going to trial last year, Wildhaber and his lawyers offered to settle the case for $850,000 plus an immediate promotion of Wildhaber to lieutenant, according to a timeline of the case released by Page’s office. Steve Stenger, the previous St. Louis County Executive, ignored the offer, according to the timeline.

Stenger was later indicted on federal charges in a pay-for-play scandal. He pleaded guilty in August to charges of bribery, mail fraud and depriving citizens of honest services of a public official and sentenced to 46 months in prison.

Following the October jury verdict in Wildhaber’s case, Belmar promoted Wildhaber from sergeant to lieutenant. Belmar also created the police department’s Diversity and Inclusion Unit and put Wildhaber in charge of it, Page said.

Just hours before the settlement was made public, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar announced he will retire in April. St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said the retirement had nothing to do with the settlement.

Sure, Jan…

Police Veteran Told ‘Tone Down’ The Gayness If He Wanted Promotion

Sgt. Keith Wildhaber (image via Wildhaber)

In the spring of 2014, St. Louis County police Sgt. Keith Wildhaber says he was told he would need to “tone down his gayness” if he hoped to be promoted to lieutenant.

The comment, according to Wildhaber, came from a former member of the St. Louis County Police Board of Commissioners, John Saracino, a short time after Chief Jon Belmar took over the department.

“I was sickened by it,” said Wildhaber on the first day of his employment discrimination lawsuit against the department, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“I think I said, ‘I can’t believe we are having this conversation in 2014.’ It was devastating to hear,” Wildhaber told the jury. “We had never spoken of my sexuality before, and I thought he was just trying to be helpful to me and looking out for my best interest in the promotional process.”

Saracino later denied making the comment.

Wildhaber filed the lawsuit in 2017 after being passed over for promotion 23 times.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time Wildhaber ranked third among 26 people who took a promotions test in February 2014. In February 2015, he again placed third in a second round of tests.

On the opening day of the lawsuit, lawyers representing Wildhaber characterized Chief Belmar as “having a penchant for promoting masculine men that dominates all promotional decisions and said that he will retaliate against anyone who questions them, as Wildhaber did by filing his lawsuit.”

“The police department under Chief Belmar is big on high-testosterone, type A masculine personalities, and my method of policing doesn’t conform with that,” testified Wildhaber, who contends he would have been promoted if he weren’t openly gay. “This chief is very heavy on promoting the SWAT, masculine type of guys, and I wasn’t doing that.”

Wildhaber’s attorneys told the jury that, after filing his lawsuit, Wildhaber was transferred to the Jennings precinct which nearly tripled his daily commute to work. And he was moved from afternoon shifts and put on midnights.

Wildhaber told the court, “It’s what’s known as a ‘geography lesson’ in the department.”

Lawyers for the department told the jury the police chief had reasons not to promote the 22-year-veteran, who is still with the department.

The department’s attorney’s pointed to a three-day suspension in 2011 for failing to file 23 out of 6,000 police reports during his tenure as a fraud detective.

The lawyer’s also said Wildhaber had been the subject of an FBI investigation and hadn’t told Belmar. They accused him of tipping off a suspect the FBI was investigating.

But Wildhaber denied the allegations saying, “I didn’t do that,” adding that he informed his supervisor after being questioned by the FBI.

Attorneys for Wildhaber say there have been several officers with larger disciplinary issues in their file than Wildhaber who have been promoted to lieutenant.

The trial will continue on Wednesday.

Missouri has no laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people in the workplace.

A bill to add sexual orientation to the state’s non-discrimination laws was passed by the state Senate on May 17, 2013, but the state House of Representatives adjourned that session without taking up the bill for consideration.

(source: Post-Dispatch)