What does the Ombuds Office do?
The Ombuds Office first listens to your concerns and then tries to provide you with the information and resources that address those concerns. For example, if you are having a disagreement with your major professor or your supervisor, the Ombuds Office can help you evaluate the situation and discuss options you might want to take. Because the Ombuds Office is a confidential resource, you can feel comfortable there talking about difficult situations. You will receive information and assistance that is specifically tailored to your needs.
I’m a merit employee, can I use the Ombuds Office?
Previously, merit employees governed by the Board of Regents Merit Rules and the AFSCME contract could not use the Ombuds Office. As of July 1, 2017, all merit employees are welcome to visit the Ombuds Office.
Can my boss discourage me from going to the Ombuds Office or retaliate against me if I do use the office ?
No. The University’s policy on “Non Retaliation Against Persons Reporting Misconduct” protects people who use the Ombuds Office. If you believe that you are being subjected to retaliation because you are using the Ombuds Office, or if you are being discouraged from using it, you should immediately bring that to the attention of the Ombuds Officer.
Can my boss require me to go to the Ombuds Office?
It is not uncommon for supervisors to suggest that an individual use the Ombuds Office services as a resource for resolving conflict. But visiting the Ombuds Office is never mandatory; it will always be up to you whether or not you want to go. You cannot be disciplined if you choose to not use the Ombuds Office.
What if I don’t like what the Ombuds Officer tells me?
You can simply ignore it. The Ombuds Officer can provide you with information and options, but you are the one who is responsible for deciding what you want to do next.
Do I have to go to the Ombuds office before I can file an appeal?
Can I still file an appeal if I go to the Ombuds Office but my issue is not resolved?
Your appeal rights do not change if you first try informal resolution through the Ombuds Office. But remember: formal grievance and appeal processes all have filing deadlines you must meet for your grievance or appeal to proceed. On rare occasions, a filing deadline might be extended if a party is working towards resolution through the Ombuds Office, but only Human Resource Services may grant such an extension. Therefore you should take advantage of the Ombuds Office services well before your appeal filing deadline arrives. This will enable you to try informal resolution, but still allow you to file a timely appeal if you decide you want to do that.
I’ve got a situation that I think somebody at the University needs to know about. Can I rely on the Ombuds Office to handle it without my getting involved?
You are welcome to discuss any type of concern with the Ombuds Office, and she will help you identify your options. But keep in mind that the Ombuds Office does not conduct investigations or issue decisions. The discussions that take place in the Ombuds Office remain confidential, so telling the Ombuds Officer about a situation does not put the University on notice. But the Ombuds Office can help you figure out how to accomplish your desired outcome.
I want to use the Ombuds Office to resolve a conflict with my colleague, but my colleague doesn’t want to participate. What do I do now?
It would still be helpful for you to visit the Ombuds Office, because you might learn some strategies you could use to deal with the conflict. Even though your colleague doesn’t want to work on resolution right now, there are often other things you can do so that your situation is more comfortable. Frequently just talking about a difficult situation can relieve some of the stress you may be feeling.
My salary is paid entirely out of grant funds. Am I eligible to use the Ombuds Office?
Yes, as long as you are a University employee or student who belongs to one of the following groups:
- Professional and Scientific staff
- Confidential and Supervisory staff
- Merit staff
- Graduate/Professional student
- Post doctorate student/employee
I don’t work on campus; I’m out in the field/in a county office/in a study abroad location. Can I use the Ombuds Office?
Yes, as long as you are not a covered merit employee or an employee paid solely by the County, you are welcome to use the Ombuds Office. If you’re not sure of your eligibility, give us a call and we’ll help you figure out if you are eligible for Ombuds service. Whether you are working overseas or only available during a night shift, the Ombuds Officer is happy to work with you to find a time and meeting location or communication method that works for your situation.