Listening Session Summaries

The Office of the Employee Ombud has conducted a series of listening sessions with City of Seattle Staff over the past three weeks. With each session, we have gathered up the questions asked by staff and created a summary of the responses we gathered from partners in SDHR, CBO, and various department contacts. These responses are by no means the definitive answers to any of the questions, but are instead intended to provide some context and relevant policy information where possible to help our staff understand what factors contribute to decision-making among our leaders during this difficult time. If you have any questions about any of these responses, or wish to meet with OEO staff, you can sign up for a video consult, submit a complaint through our secure portal, or email us.

Additionally, all of the questions asked during the listening session have been forwarded to the Mayor's Office and Cabinet so they can see the questions and concerns that are on the minds of staff. This is an evolving situation, so the answers to these questions may be periodically updated to reflecting changing policies, needs, and priorities. We will do our best to keep the answers as up to date as possible.

An Update from the Office of the Ombud

COVID-19 has deeply impacted our community. The Office of the Employee Ombuds is aware of the changing needs and emerging challenges faced by our colleagues across the city. In order to meet these new circumstances, we have created two new ways for City of Seattle Employees to report concerns to us:

  1. One-on-One Video Conferences offered daily: New scheduling calendar is available on our SharePoint site. You can sign up directly for a one on one video consult with OEO staff here.
  2. Listening Sessions beginning April 22nd. We are currently assessing ongoing Listening Sessions and will update this page as soon as additional sessions are scheduled.

Each listening session will be offered weekly at two different times on the same topic so folks on different shifts can access the sessions. You are also always welcome to call the OEO staff directly to schedule a phone or Skype meeting as well. You can also use our secure portal for submitting anonymous complaints/concerns.

Who We Are

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

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.

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.

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.

How to Meet with the Ombud

We recommend that employees use our secure site through EthicsPoint ( 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

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.