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updated: 8/20/2014 8:06 PM

Jury upholds firing of DuPage County worker

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Daily Herald report

A federal jury upheld the firing of a DuPage County employee in 2012 who filed suit against the county saying the termination violated her rights, DuPage officials said.

A three-day trial determined that Kerry Vinkler's termination from her position as the county's director of animal care and control was justified, a news release from the DuPage County State's Attorney's office said.

The county hired Vinkler, of Hickory Hills, to the $89,000-plus per year job in 2005. In 2012, the county's human resources department began investigating allegations that she would leave work and not return for extended periods of time and falsified her time sheets. An investigation determined she had falsified her time sheet on at least one occasion. She was fired Oct. 19.

According to Vinkler's termination letter, which she provided to the Daily Herald in October, there were concerns about the way she was running the shelter. They included Vinkler's alleged inability to account for her time spent outside the office, falsification of time sheets, failure to communicate with staff members and failure to ensure the appropriate administration of animal control policies and guidelines.

"These actions," the letter read, "have caused a lack of direction and have negatively impacted the relationships, both internal and external, for the Animal Control Department."

In her suit, Vinkler says she was fired as retaliation for using FMLA designated time off from Oct. 4 to Oct. 12.

"The residents of DuPage County deserve and expect County employees to show up for work every day and do their jobs," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert B. Berlin said in a statement. "The evidence in this case overwhelmingly showed that DuPage County was well within its rights to terminate Ms. Vinkler. Simply put, Kerry Vinkler was hired to do a job and when it was discovered that she was not performing, she was let go."

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