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Ombuds Program

The Faculty/Staff Ombuds Program provides a secure, informal place where all FSU Faculty and Staff are welcome to come and talk in confidence about matters or concerns that impact their employment at FSU. The Ombuds Program promotes early intervention.

The Faculty/Staff Ombuds Program accomplishes this by providing a neutral source of free information and guidance that remains confidential to the extent permitted by law and policy. The Faculty/Staff Ombuds Program supports effective communication, cooperation, equity, and civility in the FSU work environment through coaching individuals, facilitating communication between persons and departments, providing information on University policy, and, where needed, recommending appropriate institutional action or change. Our Program does not replace the University's formal complaint channels or provide legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the word "Ombuds" mean?

The word ombudsman (OM-buds-man) comes from Sweden in the 18th century where the term applied to a public official appointed to investigate citizen complaints against governmental agencies. We use the shorter term "ombuds." Today, an ombuds serves in many different kinds of organizations and provides information, options, and impartial review for anyone within an organization.

The ombuds is an impartial dispute resolution practitioner who strives towards fair and equitable solutions according to university policies. The FSU Faculty and Staff Ombuds serves as a source of information and assistance in resolving work-related issues.

What does an Ombuds do?

The ombuds provides confidential and informal assistance. Therefore, the ombuds will not identify an employee or disclose an employee's confidences without express permission of the individual except where required by law, required by university policy, or if we believe that disclosure is necessary to address an imminent risk of serious harm. Also, conversations with the ombuds may not be used in grievance or other formal proceedings. With permission, the ombuds may informally and impartially look into a situation, facilitate communication or assist with resolving a dispute. In helping to move a conflict toward a resolution, the ombuds does not judge, reward or discipline any parties. The ombuds follows no prescribed sequences of steps, and regardless of permission, will not serve as an advocate for any parties in any formal grievance process.

When should I contact the Ombuds?

  • If you need someone to listen or help you through awkward situations on the job
  • If you have a complaint about an office or service at FSU that you are unable to get resolved
  • If you wish to resolve your concerns or offer suggestions and data through an intermediary
  • When you are unsure of a policy or believe a policy has been unfairly applied to you
  • When you perceive retaliation or threats against you
  • If you want to examine options for handling particular matters or learn how to deal with issues directly
  • When you need assistance in communicating about a sensitive issue on the job
  • If you have an ethical dilemma or conflict of interest
  • When you perceive cross-cultural miscommunication
  • If you otherwise have a concern that no one seems to be able to resolve

When is it not appropriate to contact the Ombuds?

When you are seeking legal advice or representation.
The Ombuds can advise you of the policies and procedures of the University, but does not provide legal advice.

When you want someone to be an advocate for you in a dispute.
The Ombuds serves as a neutral facilitator who considers the rights and interests of all parties involved, and is not an advocate for either side.

When you have a non-University related problem or dispute.
The Ombuds does not address disputes between FSU Faculty and staff and those individuals outside of the University.

When you are seeking psychological counseling.
The Ombuds does not conduct psychological counseling.

When you want to serve legal notice to the University.
The Ombuds does not accept legal notice on behalf of the University.

What can an Ombuds do?

  • Listen to you
  • Clarify policy and procedure
  • Facilitate meetings
  • Coach you through conflicts
  • Assist you in exploring options and pursuing solutions
  • Educate about conflict resolution
  • Refer you to other resources
  • Make referrals to individuals who can address your complaint
  • Recommend action or changes to policies and procedures

Contact

General Inquiries

Michelle Douglas

Director, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Office/Chief Diversity Officer
850-644-7950

Amber Wagner

Compliance Investigator
850-645-1458
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