RAVENNA: A former Portage County mediator is suing Common Pleas Judge Laurie Pittman, accusing her of forcing him to resign earlier this year.

Richard Steinle of Suffield Township filed a federal lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Akron seeking his job back and punitive and compensatory damages. The amount of damages is not stated.

The lawsuit claims he was told to resign or be fired Jan. 27 because he wrote a letter to the editor to the Cleveland Plain Dealer that criticized Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine over his handling of a Bureau of Workers Compensation fraud case.

The letter was published May 4, 2016.

The lawsuit — which says his free speech rights were violated — claims that Pittman said he should have gotten her pre-approval before submitting the letter.

Steinle had worked as a mediator for the court from Aug. 31, 1999 until he was forced to resign, the suit says.

Pittman is on vacation this week, but her bailiff said the judge would decline to comment on the lawsuit.