An openly gay St. Louis County police officer claims in a lawsuit that he was unfairly overlooked for advancement because of his sexuality.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sgt. Keith Wildhaber, a 22-year St. Louis County police veteran, is suing the department for discrimination.

Wildhaber alleges in his complaint that a former St. Louis County Police Board member told him to “tone down [his] gayness” if he wanted to be promoted.

According to the suit, Wildhaber was told by John Saracino in 2014 that the command staff had a problem with his sexuality.

“If you ever want to see a white shirt, you should tone down your gayness,” Saracino said, a reference to a promotion. Saracino, who is no longer a member of the department's civilian police board, has denied he made the statement.

In 2014 and again the following year, Wildhaber was ranked third among 26 people who took a promotions test, the suit claims. Despite glowing performance reviews, Wildhaber has repeatedly been overlooked for a promotion.

Wildhaber served four years in the Army and the department gave him a medal of valor in 1998 for rescuing someone from a burning car.