December 02, 2010

University of Louisville Plans to Integrate Ombuds Into Formal Grievance Policy

Administrative changes at UofL that led to the creation of an Ombuds Office in 2009 have also prompted changes to the faculty grievance process. These changes would require a faculty grievant to attempt an informal resolution with the Ombuds. Moreover, a party that refused to participate in an Ombuds-suggested informal resolution would be reported to the administration.

In a recent campus email, University of Louisville faculty were invited to comment on a proposed revision to the Redbook Chapter 4.4 on Resolution of Faculty Disputes submitted by the Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Grievance Process Review Committee. This revision included the following sections relevant to the University Ombuds:
6. For Type 1 disputes [that do not involve termination and could potentially be resolved through informal means], the involvement of the Ombuds for an attempt at informal resolution is required. The faculty member may not pursue a formal grievance with first consulting the Ombuds. Refusal of any party to participate in Ombuds-suggested informal resolution will be reported to next higher level of administration. (4.4.A.1)
It is not clear when UofL will make a decision of these proposals. (The Ville Voice; UofL Redbook Changes Summary.)

1 comment:

  1. 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?