OEO By the Numbers

1146 Cases 

No Case Backlog

73% partial or full resolution on cases 

A Note from the Director and Our 2022 Annual Report

Executive Order 2023-02 went into effect on Monday, February 6th, 2023 to sunset the employee, contractor, and volunteer vaccine mandates for the City of Seattle. This is a monumental event highlighting the upheaval caused by a deadly pandemic. Lives impacted, family and work connections disrupted, livelihoods interrupted or lost—we as a community faced all of that and learned everlasting lessons about resilience.

The Office of the Employee Ombud (OEO) offered a safe listening and reporting platform when the mandate and all other pandemic related policies were introduced. We are once again ready to support our community as new realities take shape. Our office received a surge of cases during this year and, as with many employers in the region, we saw turnover of our staff as well. Despite all of these factors, I can share with confidence that we have served City employees with integrity and sustained our efforts to earn employee trust.

By virtue of this report, our charter and our personal outreach efforts, we strive to make sure City employees have greater understanding and trust for the way we handle information provided to us. This year, I was elected to the board of directors of the International Ombuds Association. An organization that provides the baseline for operations and standards of practice for Ombuds working in the US and beyond. This distinct honor is particularly important for a new office like ours because it validates our efforts to uphold the industry standards for conducting ourselves in an honest, impartial, and informal manner.

As the City workforce returns to office, we reaffirm our commitment to be a sincere listening ear. We will be here to offer them guidance on navigating conflict without jeopardizing precious workplace relationships and without escalating the situation. We will offer solutions that are practical and lead to respectful co-existence. For all the matters brought to us that cannot be served by an informal discursive intervention, we commit to serving as a bridge to other City resources that are available to serve employees. I feel fortunate that we have built a community around our place of work. OEO and its staff of six, works diligently to brainstorm process improvement ideas that make our community more equitable, more inclusive, more aware and filled with grace as we reform ourselves.

For more information on the work of our office, please read on in our 2022 Annual Report. 

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 portal at oeointake.seattle.gov to submit a report. From there, we can either contact the employee through our secure portal, or use email or phone as they prefer. If employees do not wish to use our portal, they can also email the office at ombud@seattle.gov.

OEO Trainings

The Office of the Employee Ombud (OEO) not only works with individuals – we also work with groups, units, and departments. The full list of our course offerings can be found in the 2024 OEO Training Catalog, which include monthly sessions offered to all City employees via Cornerstone as well as customized options. To request a training consultation for your team, unit, or department, please complete and submit the OEO Training Consultation Form.

OEO Mission

Empower individuals and teams to navigate conflict into respectful workplace engagement. 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 several complimentary approaches:

  • We view conflict as an opportunity for dialogue and to transform perspectives.
  • We do not shy away from difficult conversations, particularly those about race, gender, and other identities.
  • We seek to identify the underlying systemic issues that are generating conflict and to address them through capacity building instead of one-time solutions.

Commitment to Anti-Racism

We believe racism is real, persistent, and contributes to other forms of oppression. We acknowledge our own internalized racism; educating ourselves on anti-racism and applying this knowledge to our practice. The OEO prioritizes team conversations about race and has created a culture of respectful and challenging discourse. We keep race at forefront of every interaction with OEO visitors. We validate the experiences of all visitors to our office. 

The OEO was established to identify and expose systems of oppression affecting City employees. We acknowledge the past and continuous harm of inequitable policies, practice, and culture within the City and have created a mechanism to expose and elevate stories of harm. We reaffirm our commitment to making recommendations and impacting change.  

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. For more information on our office's work related to harassment and discrimination, City staff can watch the Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination training available through Cornerstone

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.

Office of the Ombud

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