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County Employee Claims Dismissal Was Political

Man claims Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough tried to stop new hires before she was elected

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    Man claims Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough tried to stop new hires before she was elected. Phil Rogers reports for NBC 5 Investigates. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014)

    A former employee of Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough has sued his old boss, claiming he was fired only because he got the job under her predecessor days before the election.

    In making the allegation, Phillip Christianson said Yarbrough and her campaign manager both attempted to stop new hires in the office before she was even elected.

    "She had meetings with a deputy in Recorder (Eugene) Moore's office," said Christianson's attorney, Jonathan Ksiazek. "And at that time, she was trying to pressure Recorder Moore, not to even post certain positions."

    Christianson was hired anyway, and says he received good performance reviews, until Yarbrough was elected, and sworn in a few months later.

    "This administration didn't know nothing about running the office," he said, noting that he believed the incoming Recorder would welcome his experience.

    Instead, he says almost immediately, Yarbrough's minions began finding fault with his work. And just four months into his tenure, he was called in by a supervisor.

    "He just said, 'we don't need you. You're terminated, immediately," Christianson said.

    Christianson filed a complaint with the Office of the Independent Inspector General, which found in his favor.

    "We have determined that impermissible political factors were considered in the employment decision to terminate Philip Christianson," the IG report stated, calling his firing "unlawful political discrimination."

    "He was taken out of his position for political reasons," Ksiazek said. "The fact that it's just one office in a basement doesn't change the law!"

    A spokesman for the Recorder's office declined comment on the suit.