Connecticut Governor Nominates Two Referees

Governor Lamont Nominates Two Referees to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont announced that he is making two nominations to fill vacancies as human rights referees, which function as administrative law judges, for the Office of Public Hearings at the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO).  These include Dr. Cherron Payne of Farmington, whom the governor is appointing to serve as chief human rights referee, and Jon FitzGerald of Bristol.

Established under state statutes, CHRO is responsible for enforcing human rights laws that ban illegal discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit transactions;  monitoring compliance with state contract compliance laws and laws requiring affirmative action in state agency personnel practices;  and establishing equal opportunity and justice for all persons in Connecticut through education and outreach activities.

The agency’s Office of Public Hearings consists of three full-time human rights referees, who are responsible for conducting hearings to determine whether discrimination has occurred and then, if necessary, determine appropriate remedies and draft decisions that may become administrative law precedent.  The office also conducts hearings regarding whistleblower retaliation complaints.

“CHRO provides a critical function on behalf of every resident of Connecticut.  Filling these two vacancies will help ensure that the agency has the resources necessary to fulfill its mission,” Governor Lamont said.  “Whether it be regarding issues surrounding employment, housing, or other activities, every person in our state deserves fair and just treatment.  I am confident that Cherron Payne and Jon FitzGerald have the experience necessary to carry out these responsibilities, and I appreciate them for agreeing to serve in this capacity.”

“The CHRO is happy to see the appointment of two such qualified candidates to the Office of Public Hearings,” CHRO Executive Director Tanya A.  Hughes said.  “The appointment of Dr. Payne and Attorney FitzGerald will have an immediate positive impact on the Office of Public Hearings and its ability to hear cases efficiently and fairly.”

Payne has served as a court-appointed state magistrate for more than nine years and has operated her own law firm – ACP Law Firm, LLC – for more than ten years.  In addition to her professional experience, she has served as chairperson for the CHRO Commission for the last five years.  She has also served as president of the Connecticut Magistrates Association.

“I am honored to be selected as the chief human rights referee,” Payne said.  “I will continue to utilize my adjudicatory experience and my commitment to human rights to advance CHRO’s mission of equal opportunity and justice.”

FitzGerald has operated his own law firm – Law Office of Jon P. FitzGerald – for the last nine years.  While in private practice he also served as a small claims magistrate for the Judicial Department, a magistrate for the Office of the Claims Commissioner, and a hearing officer for the Employees’ Review Board.  Prior to opening his firm, FitzGerald served as a human rights referee with CHRO for eleven years.

“It is an honor to be nominated by Governor Lamont and to be returning to CHRO,” FitzGerald said.  “By providing all parties with a full and fair opportunity to present their case, the referees play an important role in fulfilling CHRO’s mission of eliminating discrimination, establishing equal opportunity, and ensuring justice for all of Connecticut’s citizens.”

Both nominations are being forwarded to the Connecticut General Assembly for its advice and consent.