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In accordance with the provisions of § 6D-1 of the Charter of the city, there shall be a Human Rights Commission.
(A) Membership. The Human Rights Commission shall consist of nine members, no more than five of whom shall be members of the same political party. One member shall be a member of the Board of Aldermen, who shall be appointed by the Mayor for a term corresponding to the member's immediate term as an Alderman.
(B) Appointments; term of office. No later than July 1, 2004, the Mayor shall appoint four members whose terms shall expire on December 31, 2007, and four members whose terms shall expire on December 31, 2005. At the expiration of their respective terms, their successors shall be appointed for a term of four years. The Aldermanic members shall be appointed as set forth above.
(C) No compensation. Members shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for any necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties within the limitations of appropriations.
(D) Organization of the Human Rights Commission. During July 2004, and January of each even-numbered year thereafter, the Commission shall select from among its members a chair and such other officers as it may desire.
(1) Secretary and record keeping. The Commission shall appoint a secretary to be responsible for all correspondence and record keeping. The Secretary shall forward copies of all goings on of the Commission to the City Clerk.
(2) Meeting schedule. The Commission shall meet on the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m.
(3) Authority and actions of members. No member shall have any authority to act on behalf of the Commission except pursuant to an order regularly made at a meeting of the Commission.
(4) Quorum and voting requirements. Five members shall constitute a quorum and a concurrent vote of no fewer than four members shall be necessary for the transaction of business.
(5) Public meetings and public; participation. All meetings, except executive sessions, as defined in the State Freedom of Information Act or any successor thereto, shall be public. At the start of each regularly scheduled public meeting, the Commission shall allot a minimum of 15 minutes for public speaking, with a minimum of three minutes per speaker.
(6) Bylaws. The Commission shall have the power to adopt its own bylaws for the conduct of its business in accordance with the foregoing.
(E) Powers. The powers of the Commission shall include:
(1) To implement the policy of §§ 93.01 through 93.04 of this code, as amended from time to time, by receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination, initiating its own investigations of discrimination, mediating complaints, holding hearings, presenting findings to the Mayor and/or government agencies as the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in accordance with the general statutes;
(2) To work cooperatively with federal, state and city agencies in developing materials, workshops, public presentations and other educational resources designed to eliminate prejudice, intolerance, bigotry and discrimination, and to enlist the cooperation the various racial, religious and ethnic groups, civic and community organizations and other groups to further the intent of and purposes of §§ 93.01 through 93.04, as amended from time to time;
(3) The Commission shall discuss human rights problem areas with the Mayor and make recommendations necessary to protect the human rights of all citizens and employees of the city;
(4) The Commission shall request of the Mayor, department heads and Superintendent of Schools, such information and support as is reasonable so that it may be properly informed;
(5) The Commission may review and comment on all matters pertaining to the human rights of citizens. They may examine and scrutinize and comment on department budgets including the School Department budget;
(6) The Commission shall, when appropriate, request the assistance of the staff and commissions of the city engaged in related work;
(7) The Commission shall receive aid, advice and opinions from the Corporation Counsel and the Legal Department. The Commission may be represented in court by attorneys financed by the city in an amount not to exceed the line-item budget;
(8) The Commission and the Mayor, together or separately, shall report to the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Education in writing from time to time, as to their work. These written reports may properly contain suggestions and recommendations to further the aims of §§ 93.01 through 93.04, as amended from time to time;
(9) The Commission may issue such publications and results of investigations and research as in the Commission's judgment will tend to promote good will and to minimize or eliminate discrimination;
(10) The Commission shall enlist the cooperation of racial, ethnic, civic, fraternal, benevolent, private and public agencies, and labor organizations, in eliminating discrimination and promoting better relations between all sectors of the community by inter-group relationships;
(11) The Commission shall encourage community participation in policy making relevant to housing, education, public safety, employment, community development and all other areas that touch on the lives of citizens of the city and institute and conduct educational programs to encourage equal rights and opportunities to all persons, regardless of their race or political or religious opinions or affiliations;
(12) The Commission may seek and accept grants, gifts or benefits to help finance its activities; and
(13) The Commission may request and utilize the services, facilities and support of all municipal departments and agencies, unless prohibited by law.
(F) Exercise of authority. The Commission shall exercise its authority through the following powers and duties:
(2) To attempt by mediation to resolve any violation or discrimination complaint over which it has jurisdiction and to recommend to all appropriate government agencies such actions as it feels will resolve any complaint;
(3) With respect to complaints not resolved by mediation, to hold hearings in the course of investigations of unlawful violations with the power to subpoena witnesses, compel attendance, to administer oaths, to serve written interrogatories, take testimony of any person under oath, and require the production of any evidence and/or answers relating to any matter in question or under investigation before the Commission. At any hearing before the Commission or any committee thereof, a witness shall have the right to be advised and represented by counsel present during any hearing. All witnesses shall receive reasonable written notice. The respondent in a complaint shall have the right to testify and to present and cross-examine witnesses. These powers enumerated in this division may be exercised only on a case-by-case basis by an affirmative vote of five of the seven Commission members, and in compliance with the general law stipulations; and
(4) After hearing, to make the following dispositions.
(a) If, upon all the evidence, the Commission shall find that a respondent has not engaged in any unlawful practice or violation of §§ 93.01 through 93.04, as amended from time to time, the Commission shall state its findings of fact in writing and shall issue and cause to be served on the complainant an order dismissing the complaint as to the respondent.
(b) If upon all the evidence, the Commission shall find that a respondent has engaged in any unlawful practice in violation of §§ 93.01 through 93.04, as amended from time to time, the Commission shall state its findings of fact in writing and shall forthwith impose one or more of the following actions:
1. Issue a cease and desist order if a finding is made that a respondent, who has engaged in any unlawful practice in violation of §§ 93.01 through 93.04, as amended from time to time, or in violation of a conciliation agreement, is a city contractor or subcontractor performing under municipally funded or assisted contracts, the Mayor shall cause the contract or subcontracts to be immediately reviewed, and may suspend or revoke the contract, or contracts, or otherwise employ all available means to bring the contractor or subcontractor into immediate compliance; and/or
2. If a finding is made that a respondent, who has engaged in a discriminatory practice or violation of conciliation agreement, is a licensee, who has obtained a license to operate from the city or any agency thereof, the Mayor shall cause the license to be immediately reviewed, and may suspend or revoke the license, or otherwise employ all available means to bring the licensee into immediate compliance.
(c) Any person aggrieved by a finding of the Commission is entitled to reconsideration upon written summary and transcripts by the full Commission. Written request for a hearing must be filed within seven days of the Commission's written report. Upon receipt of a request for reconsideration, the Commission shall notify all interested parties who shall have seven days to submit any documents, report or summary to the Commission. The full Commission shall meet in executive session to review the complaint, summaries, written reports, transcripts, documents or other material, within 60 days of the receipt of the request for reconsideration. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Commission may appeal to the Connecticut Human Rights Commission in accordance with the general statutes. If the respondent does not comply with the order of the Commission, the Commission, after exhausting all possible means, shall:
1. File a criminal complaint against the respondent in the Superior Court for the Judicial District of Waterbury or in the superior court for the judicial district in which the respondent resides, seeking fines as set forth for each violation in the schedule of fees, charges, penalties and rewards attached to the annual budget of the city, pursuant to § 41.11 of this code;
2. File a complaint against the respondent in superior court seeking injunctive relief, including a temporary restraining order; or
3. File a complaint against the respondent in a court of appropriate jurisdiction seeking the award to the complainant of damages, expenses, punitive damages and other relief as appropriate.
(d) A certified copy of any report, finding or order of the Commission may be admitted as evidence in any court of competent jurisdiction.
(e) The Commission may issue such publications and results of investigations and research as in the Commission's judgment will tend to promote good will and to minimize or eliminate discrimination.
(G) Appropriations. The Board of Aldermen may make appropriations to the Commission to provide the staff, funds, equipment and accommodations necessary for the Commission's work. The expenditures of the Commission, exclusive of gifts, grants and benefits, shall be within the amounts so appropriated.
(Ord. passed 4-20-2004; Ord. passed 12-6-2004; Ord. passed 3-9-2009; Ord. passed 8-19-2013)