'Nightmare is over'; Freeholder spokeswoman resigns; expects settlement of sex lawsuit soon
Saying that her "long nightmare is over," Michele Dupey, the woman who sued the county executive and other county officials for sexual discrimination, resigned her post as public relations director for the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders two weeks ago after having worked for the county nearly 12 years. Dupey issued a statement of resignation at the public portion of the June 22 freeholders meeting. She later said that the resignation was not spurred by a lawsuit she filed in 1997, but by the offer of another job. As for the lawsuit's status, Dupey said it has become trapped in legal limbo even though all parties have agreed to settle. In late 1997, Dupey filed a complaint in Superior Court alleging she was discriminated against and sexually harassed by her employees and co-workers during an 11-month period when she served as deputy county spokeswoman in 1997. She claimed that when her supervisor left, she was passed over for a promotion to his job based on her age, gender and sexual orientation. Dupey ended up moving from the county executive's office to a job as spokeswoman for the board of freeholders. County officials have fought the suit vigorously for nearly three years. It was supposed to be settled earlier this year, but had become bogged down in details. Dupey said that settlement papers are waiting to be signed, but the opposing lawyers have not moved to do so since the last of the settlement hearings last January. The county executive's office had constantly maintained its innocence throughout the lawsuit. Felt unwanted
Even though Dupey left to take another job, she indicated that she hadn't been completely happy in her freeholder position. "Lately, I've felt unwanted," she said. Dupey had been removed from her office and her position in public relations in the freeholder office for likely reassignment in the secretarial pool. "I wanted employment commiserate with my skills in public relations," Dupey said. She declined to talk about her new job, but added, "I'm enjoying my new position very much." Dupey did, however, claim some accomplishments while employed for the county - despite the distraction offered by her lawsuit. Hired at assistant communications director for the county executive's office in Sept. 1988, Dupey initiated annual county celebrations of Women's History Month; served as liaison to a film on filmmaking in Hudson County and to the 150th anniversary of Hudson County celebrations; authored the Hudson County Economic Resource Profile; and initiated the Hudson County Advisory Commission on Women. She also served as a member, planner and media planner for the American Heritage Festive in 1994 and 1995, winning the Governor's Conference on Tourism Award for best cultural and heritage event. She also was responsible for media outreach for the 1996 transfer of the Olympic Torch in Hudson County. Most recently, she was producer, writer, and narrator of the video, "What is a Freeholder." Dupey is listed in Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Emerging Leaders, Who's Who in the Media and Communications, and Who's Who in the World, and has won numerous other awards. In responding to her public resignation, Freeholders William O'Dea and Barry Dugan praised her work with the freeholders, although it was long-time political observer Margaret Clark who praised Dupey most and said she would be missed.