Fired New London firefighter trainee files complaint with human rights commission

New London - Alfred Mayo, who was fired just days before he was to graduate from the state fire academy, filed a complaint against the city last week with the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, a commission spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

The commission does not release complaints until they are investigated and closed, spokesman Jim O'Neill said, and neither Mayo nor his attorney, Gary Cicchiello, would release the document. Mayo offered no comment on the filing.

Mayo, the first black firefighter hired in New London since 1978, has said he was targeted and terminated unfairly.

During an NAACP town hall meeting last month, Mayo handed out a seven-page letter recounting his experiences at the academy, the successful completion of which was a condition of his employment. He told the crowd of more than 100 people that he was fired "because of my face, who I am, the color of my skin. I was scrutinized from day one."

Mayo has not filed a lawsuit against the city, and previously has said he only wants his job back.

The day after the meeting, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, who fired Mayo, echoed a call for an investigation into the state fire academy.

State Rep. Ernest Hewett, who first called for the state fire academy investigation, said last month that the city was still responsible for the firing of Mayo.

A second NAACP-sponsored town hall meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Second Congregational Church in New London.

According to the human rights commission's website, a complaint must be filed within six months of the alleged discrimination. The city initially hired Mayo in September, about six months ago.

City Clerk Nathan Caron said Tuesday that his office had not received the complaint. The complaints are generally mailed from the commission, Caron said.

The commission's website explains that, once received, the respondent, in this case the city, has 30 days to respond to the allegations. The commission then must conduct a merit assessment review of the complaint within 90 days. An investigation and determination follows, and then a remedy, a "voluntary agreement between you and the respondent … to restore you, as best as possible, to the position you would have been in if the discrimination had not occurred."

s.goldstein@theday.com

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