OEO By the Numbers

433 Cases 

No Case Backlog

80% partial or full resolution on cases 

A Note from the Director and Our 2020-2021 Annual Report

2020 can easily be described as one of the most challenging years for humanity. We witnessed the highest numbers of lives lost to a pandemic with still no definitive end in sight. The previous year has taken an enormous toll. The City of Seattle has had to shore up its response on several front, both in keeping the City's workforce safe as it transitions to a remote work arrangement, and attempting to keep the pandemic under control with a focus on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable among us. But the most important frontier to raise our collective efforts has been the fight against racism, hatred, and bigotry.

Many believe that George Floyd's murder brought the awakening to our City in the form of sustained, weeks-long protests. The truth is this battle for justice has been living among us for generations. We as people, have never truly come to terms with difference. The Office of the Employee Ombud has pledged to lead the City's vision for achieving an anti-racist, anti-bias and anti-hate workplace-one that doesn't shy away from difficult conversations and yes, intense conflict about identity, race and inclusion, but actually meets that challenge head-on. Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Executive Order in February 2020, calling for a City-wide effort to address and prevent Hate Crimes and Crimes of Bias. OEO is leading the charge on this effort because of a few essential elements of our service to Seattle:

  • We believe that no efforts to address or mitigate conflict at the City are realistic without acknowledging that race, power, and identity play a monumental role in generating strife.
  • We believe that inter-personal conflict provides evidentiary wisdom about the systemic shortcomings in our best laid plans for inclusion and justice. The Ombud Office's commitment to Restorative Justice practices enable us to focus away from punitive corrections for a few to systemic corrections for all.
  • We all hold biases. Many learn how to counter them. Even though having biased opinions does not always lead to criminal acts, we must realize that a system permissive of bias and exclusion is ripe for crimes of hate to occur.

For more information on the work of our office, please read on in our 2020-2021 Annual Report, released in April of 2021. 

Who We Are

The Office of the Ombud is a confidential, informal and independent resource that serves all current City of Seattle Employees.

Who We Serve

The Office of the Employee Ombud is a resource for all current City of Seattle Employees. At this time, the OEO is not a resource for former employees, non-employee applicants to City jobs, retirees, or the general public.

How to Meet with the Ombud

We recommend that employees use our secure site through EthicsPoint (oeo.ethicspoint.com) to submit a report. From there, we can either contact the employee through EthicsPoint, or use email or phone as they prefer. If employees do not wish to use EthicsPoint, they can also email the office at ombud@seattle.gov.

OEO Trainings

The Office of the Employee Ombud offers ongoing trainings to all City of Seattle Employees. We have three trainings that are available through Cornerstone: Bystander Intervention (Outline) and Responses to Discrimination (Outline), and Conflict Management (Outline). Please note that our Bystander Intervention Training is a prerequisite for the Responses to Discrimination training. City of Seattle Departments can also request customized trainings through our office by emailing ombud@seattle.gov or by reaching out directly to OEO staff.

OEO Mission

Empowering individuals and teams to transform conflict into quality work and learning. The mission of the Office of the Employee Ombud is to ensure that employees have access to a resource for informally addressing workplace concerns in a fair and equitable manner. The Ombud Office carries out this mission by way of two complimentary approaches:

  • Receiving and assisting individuals toward the resolution of concerns in a confidential and informal basis.
  • Supporting procedures that advance the goal of a fair conflict management system.

Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination and harassment in all forms is an ongoing trend that the OEO will join with other groups and units to address. As part of our intake meetings with individuals, even if discrimination or harassment is not their primary reported concern, we ask whether they believe their identity may be a factor in the conflict. Over half the visitors to our office reported that they believed their identity was a factor. As a part of conflict mitigation in the OEO, we believe that identity is almost always a factor in conflicts, and that bias, even where there is not legally actionable discrimination or harassment, must be systemically acknowledged and corrected.

Mission as Described in Enacting Ordinance (#125735)

  • Assist City employees, in all branches of City government, in understanding and assessing options and resources to address concerns about or claims of workplace conduct that may be: inappropriate; a violation of the City’s Personnel Rules, City polices, workplace expectations; harassment, discrimination, or retaliation; and
  • Provide analyses and recommendations of policy and rule changes needed to address departmental or system-wide inefficiencies and in-person training to prevent workplace discrimination and harassment in City employment.

Whistle Blower Protections

The City of Seattle encourages employees to discuss concerns, conflicts, or report wrongdoing. The Office of the Employee Ombud provides a safe, confidential space for employees to seek guidance. All City of Seattle employees have the right, in good faith, to utilize the services of the Office of the Employee Ombud. City of Seattle employees are permitted to visit the Office of the Employee Ombud during their regular work hours and as such will be protected from retaliation. “Retaliation” means any unwarranted or negative change in an employee’s employment status, terms and conditions, or threats. Retaliation also includes supervisors requiring employees to use leave time to seek the services of the Office of the Employee Ombud. An employee who believes he or she has suffered retaliation should contact the Office of the Employee Ombud.