RE: What do you think about a conflicts resolution position being a mandatory part of a grievance process

I saw a posting on the Ombuds Blog about this and was curious about your take on it.

What do you think about the University of Louisville plans to integrate the Ombuds’ Office into their grievance process. They have broken down the type of grievance that is mandated to be heard informally by the Ombuds but they also said if a party refuses to utilize the Ombuds in their grievance process, he/she will be reported to the next higher level of the administration. My thoughts follow. What are yours?

How does the Ombuds’ Office actually feel about this proposal? I am not yet an Ombuds person so forgive me if I am missing a point or two not yet being a practitioner, in all sincerity. However, if the Ombuds office is to remain independent and neutral, how can it be an integral part of a grievance process?

I find alarming the following: “Refusal of any party to participate in Ombuds-suggested informal resolution will be reported to next higher level of administration.” This will automatically remove the anonymity of the visitor. In addition, this opens up Pandora’s Box if a matter goes to litigation and the Ombudsperson is needed as a witness. It is my opinion that a process such as this further drives a stake into the Ombuds’ communication with its clients becoming privileged.

It appears as if the committee wanted to introduce some form of mandatory Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) internally but perhaps they should create a pool of mediators to fulfill this need. Any thoughts?

Regards,

Alicia M. Phidd, M.P.S., J.D.

Alicia M. Phidd, M.P.S.,J.D. received her B.Sc. in Chemistry and Masters in Environmental Studies from S.U.N.Y. at Stony Brook in New York and Juris Doctor from St. Thomas University School of Law in Florida. She currently practices Business Law and Immigration Law. In addition, she has taught law at Barry University, graduate school; University of Phoenix, undergraduate business school and Broward Community College. She can be reached through website www.aliciaphidd.com Follow her at www.twitter.com/phidd All copyrights reserved. © 2009

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