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updated: 4/2/2011 7:10 PM

Former clerk's suit claims McHenry County violated disabilities act

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A former worker in the McHenry County Circuit Clerk's office is suing the county in federal court, claiming she was forced to resign after nearly 10 years on the job when her bosses wouldn't accommodate her disability.

Joelle Yester, of McHenry, alleges supervisors refused to give her a job that didn't require her to stand for long periods of time, a task made difficult because she suffers from a condition called fibromyalgia.

The condition, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, is a common syndrome in which people experience body-wide pain and tender points in joints, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.

The suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, asks a court to rule the county violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and order it to pay unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Thomas Carroll, civil division chief for the McHenry County State's Attorney's office, said Yester's claims are unfounded and he is confident the lawsuit ultimately will be dismissed in the county's favor.

"(Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe) made reasonable accommodations for her, took every step she needed to and even went the extra mile to try to accommodate her," Carroll said. "We believe that the county will not be found to have engaged in any improper behavior with this employee."

According to court documents, Yester alleges her supervisors forced her to work at a payment counter position in the clerk's office, despite knowing of her disability. The requirement, Yester claims, created a work situation "so hostile that no reasonable minded person could continue to work effectively within such an environment" and led to her resignation in April 2009.

No court date has been scheduled yet in the case, which has been assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Philip G. Reinhard. Yester is serving as her own attorney, court documents show.