When to call – Human Resources, Ombuds, EAP

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Longwood Medical Area Ombuds Office 

Population served: The Ombuds Office is open to faculty, staff, students, trainees and appointees to HMS, HSDM, HSPH and their affiliated institutions.  Additionally, the Ombuds Office supports collaborators and individuals currently not a part of the Harvard community if they have an issue that involves the institution or a current member of the Harvard community.

About the Ombuds Office: The Longwood Ombuds Office, established in 1991, provides its visitors with a highly confidential and informal forum in which to help them to clarify their concerns, identify their goals and consider all of their options in managing or resolving their concerns. The Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function and appearance and does not serve as an advocate for any party to a dispute. However, an Ombudsperson does advocate for fair treatment and processes. The Ombuds Office seeks to enhance the ability of all visitors to deal more effectively with challenging situations on their own. If assistance is needed beyond individual coaching, further information can be gathered on behalf of the individual, referrals can be made to those with expertise or authority in a specific area at the school or affiliated institution. When appropriate, the Ombudsperson can provide shuttle diplomacy, group facilitation or informal mediation services to help find a satisfactory solution. The visitor decides which course of action, if any, to take and that action is tailored to fit each situation.

Typical concerns brought to the Ombuds Office: work/learning environment and performance, fear of retaliation, professional misconduct, authorship, sexual harassment and discrimination. Any issue may be brought to the Ombudsperson.

What makes the Ombuds Office unique?

  • Follows standards of practice determined by International Ombudsman Association
    • Confidentiality: Information shared by any visitor will not be disclosed without the visitor’s permission except when the Ombuds determines there may be an imminent risk of serious harm or when required by law. The Ombuds Office does not maintain records that identify visitors to the office. Additionally, Harvard has designated the Ombudsman Office and the Longwood Ombuds as “confidential” resources as it relates to Title IX.
    • Neutrality: An Ombudsperson does not serve as an advocate for any party to a dispute. However, an Ombudsperson does advocate for productive communication and fair processes and their implementation.
    • Independence: The Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function and appearance. Separate from any office that oversees employment, academic appointments or student status.
    • Informality: There is no formal processes in the Ombuds Office—can educate people about policies and procedures and where to go.
  • Identifies trends or systemic problems to administrators with recommendations for institutional improvements.

Any issue can be brought to an Ombudsperson