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Principles

The employee ombuds adheres to the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics as well as Northeastern’s Statement of Values. Four principles guide the work of the ombuds: confidentiality, informality, impartiality, and independence.

Confidentiality

The Ombuds Office is confidential. The promise of confidentiality helps create a safe place for visitors to freely voice concerns. The ombuds will not identify you or discuss your concerns with anyone unless you give your permission during the course of your informal discussions with the ombuds and the ombuds agrees that such disclosure is an appropriate option. The only exceptions to confidentiality are when the ombuds believes there is an imminent risk of serious harm, suspects child abuse or neglect, or is compelled by a court.

Informality

All conversations with the ombuds are voluntary, informal, off-the-record, and do not serve as legal notice to Northeastern of a problem. This also means that the ombuds does not keep permanent records for the University, conduct investigations, participate in formal grievances or complaints, or serve as a witness. There may be times when the ombuds takes notes, but the notes are shredded when the ombuds is finished working with you if not before.

Impartiality

The ombuds does not have a stake in the outcome of any situation, take sides in a conflict or make any decisions. The advantage of being impartial is that it may help the ombuds objectively present information for your situation that may be missed if the ombuds is focused on advocacy for you. The ombuds, however, can act as an advocate for a fair process.

Independence

The ombuds has sole discretion on managing the day to dayday-to-day operations of the Ombuds Office and over how to act regarding individual matters or systemic concerns. Reporting directly to the president for administrative purposes only, the ombuds operates outside the primary University structure. This allows the ombuds to work free from pressure or influence that could interfere with addressing your concerns. Unless given permission by a visitor or if one of the narrow exceptions to confidentiality stated above applies, the ombuds does not discuss individual cases with anyone including the president.

Nondisclosure Agreement

By talking with the ombuds, you and the ombuds agree that the ombuds will not disclose or keep records of individually identifiable information; the ombuds will not testify or participate in any formal proceeding; communications with the ombuds are privileged, and this privilege is held by the ombuds and cannot be waived by others; and that by communicating with the ombuds, you are not notifying Northeastern of your concern. This agreement fosters confidentiality and helps provide a safe and neutral place for discussing any concern.

 

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