The Commission On Equal Opportunities (CEO) is the United States of America's oldest municipal civil rights agency. It began in the City of New Haven Connecticut in 1963. Mayor Richard C. Lee, upon returning from a U.S. conference of Mayors with the late President John F. Kennedy, addressed the issues of human rights in America. Mayor Lee established a human rights fact finding committee and held numerous open hearing to obtain information regarding civil rights issues in the public and private sectors.
The Committee's efforts resulted in a recommendation to the New Haven Board of Aldermen that a Commission on Equal Opportunities be created. Further, the Committee drafted legislation that was used for a city ordinance to combat racial discrimination. Thus, CEO was established in 1964 by the City of New Haven Board of Alderman.
This newly established Commission was empowered with the legal authority to take appropriate action against public and private employers, landlords and contractors with the boundaries of New Haven. Any and all discrimination on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, age, physical disability, sex, sexual orientation, national origin or familial status would be stuck down.
The commission functions as a semi-autonomous civil rights agency and is presently located a 200 Orange Street, Room 402, Hall of Records Building, New Haven. The CEO operates under the general direction of a nine-member Board of Commissioners who meet monthly. The Board selects its Executive Director who is responsible for the administrative functions of the Board of Commissioners as well as staff. The Commissioners are appointed to terms from one to three years. The Mayor appoints eight Commissioners and the Chairman. The Board of Alderman appoints one of its members to the Board of Commissioners.
Functions & Responsibilities/Mission
The 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.