Disability Rights Advocates Announces New Director of Litigation

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Portrait-style photo of Michelle Caiola smiling.

September 15, 2016 – New York, NY – Disability Rights Advocates (DRA), a leading nonprofit law firm advancing disability rights nationwide, announced today the appointment of Michelle Caiola as Director of Litigation. Ms. Caiola will work in tandem with fellow Director of Litigation and Interim Executive Director Mary-Lee Smith. Sid Wolinsky, the founder of DRA, continues to guide the firm as Supervising Attorney. Mr. Wolinsky praised the announcement: “Michelle Caiola is a ferocious litigator and stellar civil rights advocate whose leadership has already brought about explosive growth at DRA’s New York office.”

Since joining DRA in 2015 and becoming Managing Attorney of the firm’s New York office, Ms. Caiola is currently lead counsel in class action lawsuits brought against large public entities such as the City of New York, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the State University of New York Purchase College, challenging pervasive architectural barriers in violation of federal, state and local disability laws. Ms. Caiola has hired and continues to supervise attorneys and fellows at DRA’s New York office in its litigation and investigation of a multitude of cases advancing the equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide.

Prior to DRA, Ms. Caiola served as Litigation Director at Legal Momentum (formerly the NOW Legal Defense Fund) and Interim Legal Director at Equal Rights Advocates, where she oversaw legal and policy work on behalf of women.  Ms. Caiola honed her experience litigating high-impact civil rights cases as a Senior Trial Attorney at EEOC for over a decade, leading to numerous high-profile settlements, including a $54 million settlement against Morgan Stanley for glass-ceiling sex discrimination and a $34 million dollar settlement against Mitsubishi Manufacturing for pervasive, plant-wide sexual harassment.  She was also thrice awarded the EEOC’s highest honor, the Chair’s Organizational Award.

Ms. Caiola earned her J.D. with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law and graduated cum laude from Kent State University.

About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)
Disability Rights Advocates is one of the leading non-profit disability rights legal centers in the nation. With offices in Berkeley and New York City, DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. DRA represents people with the full spectrum of disabilities in complex, system-change, class action cases. July 2016 marks the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). DRA is proud to have upheld the promise of the ADA since our inception. Thanks to DRA’s precedent-setting work, people with disabilities across the country have dramatically improved access to health care, employment, transportation, education, disaster preparedness planning, voting and housing. For more information, visit www.dralegal.org.


Kate Hamilton, Development & Communications Director
(212) 644-8644