The City of New Haven's Commission On Equal Opportunities (CEO) is the oldest municipal civil rights agency in the United States. Returning from a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors with President John F. Kennedy in 1963, Mayor Richard C. Lee recognized that the turmoil around racial equality and other human rights demanded local action. He established a fact-finding committee on human rights, which held numerous public hearings regarding civil and human rights.
The Committee's findings included a recommendation that the City establish a Commission on Equal Opportunities.Â It would combat racial and other types of discrimination and promote intergroup harmony. The Committee drafted an ordinance and submitted it to the New Haven Board of Alders. In 1964, the Board of Alders adopted the ordinance.
Mission, Functions & Responsibilities
Today, the Commission's mandate has expanded as society's understanding of who we are has grown.
The ordinance now recognizes gender identity or expression as a potential cause of discrimination. The complete list is: race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, sexual orientation, age, familial status, national origin, ancestry, or handicap. The ordinance cites Connecticut law in this regard as well, including the longstanding prohibition against discrimination based on "lawful source of income."
In accordance with state law, the Commission has jurisdiction in cases involving discrimination regarding the association of licensed persons, employment practices, public accommodations (including housing), and credit.
The overall functions of the Commission on Equal Opportunities, as set forth in the New Haven Code of Ordinances and its amendments, are as follows:
To promote mutual understanding and respect among, and encourage equality of opportunity, for all the people of New Haven without regard for their race, color, religion, creed, national origin, age, sex, marital status, ancestry, sexual orientation, familial status, and physical disability.
To conduct programs of education, research, investigation, and action for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of the Ordinance.
To work with governmental and private organizations and groups for the purpose of achieving harmonious inter-group relations in the community. To develop and establish positive programs which will help all members of the community enjoy equality in all phases of community life.
To supplement, through official local action, the implementation in New Haven of the state statutes prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and housing, and to process complaints of discrimination involving alleged violations of these laws.
Acting Interim Executive Director
Commission offices are located at:
New Haven City Hall
165 Church St, 6th floor
New Haven, CT 06511