January 06, 2016

Former Ombuds at Western Carolina University Testifies in Lawsuit

WCU's former Ombuds was a witness in a lawsuit filed by a university maintenance worker who says was fired after exposing petty theft on campus. In October, a state hearing judge found for the terminated employee; the university plans to appeal. A news report about the case implies that Jayne Zanglein, who was the Western Carolina Ombuds in 2013-14, was a witness for the plaintiff:

In court testimony, former university Ombudsman Jane [sic] Zanglein said that “retaliation by management was a common complaint among employees at WCU,” and that she believes this case has had “a chilling effect on the willingness of other employees to come forward to report illegal or inappropriate activities.” 
No other details about the case have been published. Zanglein was the Ombuds from August 2013 to September 2014 for a pilot program. WCU did not renew her appointment or implement an Ombuds program.  Zanglein is currently Executive Director of the North Carolina Agricultural Mediation Program.  (The Sylva Herald; LinkedIn.)

Related post: Western Carolina University Opens Ombuds Office.

1 comment:

  1. So once again we see how poor implementation, design, and preparation results in risk to the field. This is unfortunate. Cannot count the number of times I have discussed with others that the greatest risk to ombuds confidentiality privilege emerges from the programs that were NOT well alligned or connected to the organization or the IOA.

    Pilot programs as well as segmented programs (those that serve a portion of an organization or system's population) need to be a special concern for the field.

    Accpeting Ms. Zanglein should likely not have testified at all, the comments above attributed to her also should raise significant neutrality questions.

    Would value Chuck Howard's opinion on the longterm implications of these developments.

    John W. Zinsser