‘Doing what’s proper’, Champion of disability rights in New Haven strikes into new position with metropolis
NEW HAVEN – Michelle Duprey, recently sworn in as assistant business advisor, will continue to provide accessible city government in her new role.
Duprey, who has been the director of the Disability Services Department since July 1998, said Monday she was likely to deal with discrimination complaints from employees, although she would not pick up cases where she was involved in decision-making.
“The city has always tried to comply with the law, especially what I saw as ADA cases. We were trying to do exactly what the law required us to do,” Duprey said. “I think that implementing fair employment practices fairly will really reduce the number of cases, so I’ve always consulted my work with the Disabled Americans Act.”
Although she does not yet know the details of her new role, “I would certainly put myself in a very good position to defend the city, to do the right thing,” she said.
Duprey, 54, said much of her work was not seen in public “to establish comprehensive practices and guidelines for our employees and the public,” but in 2005, “we were named Employer of the Year by Connecticut and Nationals selected “multiple sclerosis societies.
“I have trained New Haven police officers in dealing with people with disabilities and the legal requirements for probably more than 15 years,” said Duprey.
In general, she said, she has led the city “to provide shelter and make sure we do things the best we can, whether it’s clearing snow on the greens or securing our polling stations [and homeless shelters] were accessible. “
Mayor Justin Elicker said of Duprey, “Although I didn’t know very well here before I became mayor, I saw your work last year and was very impressed.”
He said Duprey is “very flexible in responding to issues related to COVID and taking on some challenges that are outside of her normal workflow. … The city had to make major changes to what we are used to with home workers. In doing so, union agreements were observed and “detailed questions about the work rules of employees were complicated. She protected the city and allowed employees to be treated fairly. “
Duprey graduated from the University of Connecticut with a law degree in 1993. She advised city departments, corporations, and organizations on complying with the Disabled Americans Act, and spoke frequently about ADA compliance, diversity, and the disabled community.
She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Department and a past chair of the Department of Human Rights and Accountability. Duprey has also served on the board of directors of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, the Connecticut ACLU, and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation.
Osteogenesis imperfecta that Duprey suffers from is a genetic disorder that results in bones that break easily.
Kathy Flaherty, executive director of the Connecticut Legal Rights Project and a friend of Duprey’s, said she was “absolutely delighted” to see Duprey take on a new role.
“One of the things that it really shows, as a person with disabilities who happens to be a lawyer, is always exciting to see one of us get a job that isn’t just in the disability realm,” said Flaherty.
Flaherty said people with disabilities are often “discounted or overlooked” when it comes to other positions. She said Duprey “brings many strengths to this position and often people fail to realize that people with disabilities spend all of our lives trying to find solutions to problems, and often problems that other people have not thought about.”
Flaherty said the city and other employers are entering a new era where COVID-19 is “creating a whole generation of people with disabilities, and I think this is likely to cause problems for the city in different ways,” including the United States Schools and housing staff with persistent symptoms.
Moving Duprey to a new position ”was a really good choice on the part of the city. I’m glad they did it, ”said Flaherty.
Elicker said in a statement emailed Monday, “She will be an asset to anything she is working on. Her integrity, attention to detail, and experience make her perfect for the role of Deputy Corporation Counsel. “
Management consultant Patricia King said in a statement: “We are very excited to welcome Michelle to our team. Her expertise in the area of the rights of people with disabilities, the respect she has earned among city staff, and recent work on industrial relations on COVID-19-related issues will be invaluable as we are at Corporation Counsel put a broader focus on labor and employment issues. “
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