November 11, 2013

Can an Ombuds Address NFL Bullying?

An editorial in the Washington Times suggests that an Ombuds or Workplace Mediator could have helped prevent the type of locker room bullying in the National Football League that has made news recently.  Millicent Carvalho-Grevious, a Pennsylvania mediator and professor, argues that, "What is needed is an NFL Ombudsman and Mediation Program to address bullying among players and within teams, before it escalates to the point that lawyers need to be involved or violence erupts."

Using the situation of Jonathan Martin, a Miami Dolphins tackle, who claims he quit the team because he was being harassed and bullied by fellow teammate, lineman Richie Incognito, Carvalho-Grevious writes:
An independent ombudsman could have met privately with Martin and Incognito and assessed the situation.

If given permission by Martin to speak with higher-ups, a skilled ombudsman may have been able to keep Martin’s particular bullying situation confidential, while addressing similar problems within the Dolphins or NFL. Additionally, if both Martin and Incognito agreed to mediate their conflict, the ombudsman/mediator many have been able to satisfactory facilitate a resolution that met the needs of everyone involved.

Instead we have a media circus and political pundits jumping on the “racial” aspect of the conflict without knowing all of the facts.
Carvalho-Grevious bemoans the obvious missed opportunity for an earlier and better resolution.  (Washington Times.)

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