[Adopted 9-23-1975 (§§ 2-61 to 2-65 of the 1974 Code)]
There is hereby established a Human Rights Commission (hereinafter referred to as "the Commission") for the purposes stated herein, which shall be appointed and organized and shall have the duties and powers as hereinafter set forth.
The purposes of the Commission shall be as follows:
To promote mutual understanding and respect among all racial, religious, ethnic, and other groups.
To secure equality of treatment of, and opportunity for, all human beings.
To cooperate with governmental and nongovernmental agencies with organizations having like or kindred functions to those of the Commission, as it deems necessary or desirable.
To make such studies in the field of human rights as in the judgment of the Commission will aid in effectuating its general purpose.
To demonstrate to federal or state funding agencies or courts that Newington has an official body which does review issues or challenges involving compliance with federal and state laws on human rights and which can make recommendations to the Town Council for action.
The Commission shall consist of nine electors of the Town who shall be appointed by the Town Council for terms of three years. Three members shall be appointed for a term expiring on November 30 in an odd-numbered year; three members shall be appointed for a term expiring on November 30 in an even-numbered year, and three members shall be appointed for a term expiring November 30 in an odd-numbered year and commencing the year after the even-numbered-year appointment.
A reasonable effort shall be made to solicit Commission members so as to represent a broad cross section of the community.
The Mayor or a Town Council member designated by the Mayor, the Town Manager, the Department of Human Services Director, a member of the Newington Housing Authority designated by said Authority and a member of the Board of Education designated by said Board shall serve as ex officio members of the Commission without the right to vote in meetings of said Commission.
Any vacancy on the Commission from whatever cause occurring shall be filled, within a reasonable time, by appointment by the Town Council for the unexpired portion of the term.
At its initial meeting and at its first meeting on or after December 1 of each year, the Commission shall elect from its membership a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and a Secretary. The Commission shall be authorized to create such subcommittees and advisory committees as it shall deem helpful to the accomplishment of its responsibilities.
The Commission shall hold a minimum of four meetings each year at such reasonably regular intervals as it may designate. The Chairperson may call a special meeting at any time. Any four members of the Commission may at any time request in writing that the Chairperson call a special meeting. The Chairperson shall, within three days after receipt of such a request, call a special meeting for a time within five days after the date of the request for such meeting. A quorum at any meeting shall consist of five voting members, and the vote of a majority of the Commission shall be required for any action to be taken.
Any regular member who is absent from three consecutive meetings of the Commission for whatever reason shall advise the Chairperson in open session or in writing of the reason or reasons for such absences. The Commission shall thereupon evaluate the continuation of the membership of such member. If the Commission finds by not less than six affirmative votes that such member has by his absences unsatisfactorily performed his duty as a member of the Commission, the Chairperson shall so notify the Town Council. Such a finding shall make such member subject to removal or suspension under the provisions of the Town Charter.
The responsibilities of the Commission shall be as follows:
To work with federal, state and Town agencies, as well as with private, civic, religious, business, industrial, labor, and other Newington organizations, groups or persons, and to recommend to the Town Council any programs arising therefrom which will help all members of the community to enjoy equality of opportunity in all phases of community life.
To engage in, study and research and to publish reports designed to increase understanding within the community and conduct other appropriate activities in furtherance of its goals.
To seek compliance with all state and federal laws relating to human rights and opportunities, including but not limited to C.G.S. § 31-126 (unfair employment practices) and § 53-35 (discrimination in public accommodations, rental housing and commercial property, sale of building lots and mobile home parks).
To receive complaints regarding inequity of treatment or of discrimination in the Town and, when appropriate, to refer such complaints to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities and to other agencies having jurisdiction in the particular matter; provided, however, that no action shall be taken upon any complaint received by the Commission unless the same has been filed by either an official or agency of the federal, state or local government or by a natural person and unless such complaint alleges one or more acts occurring within the Town whereby the complainant's legal rights have been directly or indirectly violated in the area of public accommodations, housing, employment or other matters within the purview of the Human Rights Commission and sets forth the specifics thereof.
To carry out such projects in the area of human rights as shall be assigned to it by the Town Council.
To offer its services and to cooperate with every other agency and department of the Town in promoting a healthy community.
To submit to the Town Council annually, or more frequently as the need arises, reports concerning the activities of the Commission.
To promote activities and programs to carry out the purposes of the Commission.
To pursue a community-wide program of education that furthers intergroup understanding, tolerance and acceptance.
To advise and recommend to the Town Council appropriate programs to be wholly or partially implemented with federal, state and Town funds.
To perform independent investigation for the purpose of making reports or recommendations to the Town Council with respect to new or proposed programs or issues involving human and group rights and relations.