2007 Howard B. Eisenberg Distinguished Service Award
Attorney , Disability Rights Wisconsin, Madison
In her over 20 years combined in private practice and civil legal services in the Milwaukee Office of Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), Monica Murphy has represented hundreds of people with disabilities who have experienced housing and employment discrimination, inaccessible buildings and programs, denial of benefits and assistive technology, or problems in school.
As the Managing Attorney for DRW’s School and Civil Rights Team in Milwaukee, Monica oversees both legal services to adults and children with disabilities and systemic/policy advocacy in the areas of special education, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Help America Vote Act, and other areas of civil rights law. She also responds to countless calls for legal advice from private attorneys, family members, people with disabilities, and local advocates.
Not surprisingly, after many years of helping people throughout Wisconsin who have found themselves in very difficult or unjust circumstances, and providing high quality training on countless occasions, Monica has become recognized as an expert and leader in the disability movement. Her stature was recently enhanced by DRW’s victory in a 6-year class action lawsuit against Milwaukee Public Schools and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on behalf of 17,000 students with disabilities in Milwaukee, Jamie S. et. al. v. Milwaukee Public Schools et. al. Monica and Jeff Spitzer-Resnick (the 2004 recipient of the Equal Justice Fund Distinguished Service Award) are DRW’s lead counsel on this case.
Monica studied Urban Community Policy Problems at Michigan State University and is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. She is a member of the ACLU Lawyers’ Committee, the Wisconsin Employment Lawyers Association, and both the Public Interest Section and Employment Law Section of the Wisconsin State Bar. Monica’s legal accomplishments include the lead or co-counsel role in the following major pieces of litigation:
- Lead attorney in the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act case entitled, EEOC and Perkl v. Showtime Pizza d/b/a Chuck E. Cheese, in which the federal jury returned the largest ADA verdict ever awarded – $13 million, on behalf of her client Don Perkl.
- Sole attorney from administrative hearing through victory before the Wisconsin Supreme Court in an important case expanding protections under Wisconsin Fair Employment Law. (Crystal Lake Cheese Factory v. L.I.R.C.)
- Lead attorney in a case that ensured that people living in nursing homes could get customized power wheelchairs through Medicaid. (Trott v. D.H.F.S.)
- Co-counsel in class action lawsuit ensuring that the paratransit system in Milwaukee County complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Burg et. al. v. Milwaukee County)
Photo Credit: Wisconsin Law Journal