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St. Louis County to appeal $20 million decision: LGBTQ discrimination is legal

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ST. LOUIS — St. Louis County will appeal a jury decision that awarded a fired gay cop almost $20 million. Their argument? It’s legal to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

Missouri does not have any laws protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and there currently is no federal law banning discrimination.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last week that the lawyers doing the appeal are from outside the county government. They are asking the judge to amend the judgement or order a new trial.

According to the newspaper, the attorneys said the motion did not make people in local government happy.

“The county executive and the county counselor have openly and publicly stated their disdain for the state of Missouri law on sexual orientation discrimination,” according to the court filing. “But they are also fiduciaries, responsible to the taxpayers, and must respect the current state of the law, no matter how much they are disappointed by its failure to protect all groups deserving of protection.”

The laywers, with the Lewis Rice firm, are saying that the cop, Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, can’t sue under the Missouri Human Rights Act because it doesn’t bar LGBTQ discrimination.

According to the Post-Dispatch, it’s the same argument made during the trial. Both County Executive Sam Page and County Counselor Beth Orwick had opposed this tactic. In fact, Orwick had told the county attorneys not to use the tactic.

The law firm doing the appeal also says they disagree with the state law. However, despite all the opposition, the law firm is still using the argument because of “fiduciary duty.” Page, even with his own objections, asked the county council to appropriate $150,000 for the legal team and got it.

Wildhaber filed a discrimination lawsuit against the St. Louis County Police Department saying the department had repeatedly passed him over because he is gay. He was reportedly told to “tone down his gayness” if he wanted a promotion.

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