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Ombuds Services

Ombuds services help to ensure fair treatment for everyone in an association, organization, or business. By listening to, documenting, and synthesizing volunteered information, an ombudsperson enables an entity to work in harmony with the people it serves, supports and is served by. 

At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, we offer a range of ombuds services to organizations and businesses committed to making their environments welcoming, inclusive and safe for all.  Services may include:

  • Receiving and handling complaints from stakeholders or constituents in a fair and equitable manner;
  • Documenting and quantifying complaints in order to assist an entity or profession in its goal of becoming more diverse; and
  • Consulting with an organization to develop complaint, referral and documentation procedures that improve awareness in the quest for more equal treatment.
  • Training in best practices for identifying and preventing instances of discriminatory conduct to ensure equal treatment of organization members

Through online reporting and confidentiality measures, we provide your stakeholders and constituents with the confidence that their concerns are important and they are protected as they share them.

What is an Ombudsperson?

The word ‘Ombudsperson’ comes from the Swedish word ombudsman, which means representative or agent of the people. Many educational institutions, academic associations, private businesses, professional organizations, government agencies, and nonprofits have an ombuds office to support employees, members, and consumers.

An Ombudsperson is an independent and impartial party who receives and may investigate unresolved complaints against a specific company or organization. The ombudsperson may give limited advice to complainants about available resources and provide the complainant with options to consider. The ombudsperson may provide limited advice to an organization in best practices.

Although an ombudsperson reports to an executive committee of the board of directors or to the CEO, an ombudsperson has no other role within the company or organization, as per the International Ombudsman Association Standards of Practice.

The nature of the complaints can vary depending on the entity involved, but common sources of concern include:

  • Sexual or other harassment;
  • Discriminatory conduct by those with power over the complainant;
  • Arbitrary and unauthorized actions by persons in authority within an organization; and
  • Ethical questions.

An ombudsperson may receive complaints by phone, e-mail, online form, and other ways designed to protect the complainant’s privacy.

How Does an Ombudsperson Resolve Complaints?

When an ombudsperson has been authorized to investigate a concern or complaint, they will either uphold it (meaning that their finding is in favor of the complainant) or not uphold it, in which case they conclude that the organization has done nothing wrong. If they find that the complaint was justified, they work with the organization to resolve it and may recommend redress.  The actions taken by the ombudsperson will depend on the nature of its relationship with the hiring entity.

An ombudsperson may use an appropriate alternative dispute resolution approach, such as mediation of conflicts. They may also provide coaching services, help the organization track problem areas, and recommend changes to policies or procedures as part of an orderly systems change.

How Can an Ombudsperson Benefit Your Organization?

The value of an independent ombuds service is immeasurable. Benefits include:

  • Enabling an entitly to better understand the experiences of its members;
  • Avoiding stressful and expensive litigation by addressing problems before they reach a courtroom;
  • Protecting the reputation of your company or organization by preventing serious issues from spiraling out of control;
  • Increasing productivity and morale by providing employees or members with an opportunity to be heard; and
  • Addressing legal compliance issues before they reach the attention of regulators.

Why Choose Us?

At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, our attorneys have the skills and experience that make us an ideal partner for those needing independent ombuds services. We don’t take a ‘one size fits all approach’ to client situations. Instead, we customize our services to create a proactive program that matches your requirements and budget, from information reporting to conflict resolution and more.

Leto Copeley is a member of the International Ombudsman Association and has trained as a mediator.  The attorneys of the firm have practiced in the area of labor and employment law for many years, primarily representing individuals.  The firm is also a business with employees, and therefore brings to the ombuds role an ability to see the perspectives of both leaders and constituents.  

As ombudspeople, our attorneys help you discover and deter misconduct so that senior management can focus their time and resources on keeping your company or organization strong and sustainable. The fact that we are an independent resource builds credibility with your employees and stakeholders, which in turn raises confidence and morale.

We are not a regulator or industry watchdog. What we do is help track and resolve complaints so that employees and consumers are back in the position they were in before the problem occurred. During the process, we can share non-identifying aggregated information so that you can make improvements.

Attorney Leto Copeley currently provides independent ombuds services to the American Economic Association, so that it may proactively address any conduct that violates the AEA Policy on Harassment and Discrimination. To learn more about how we can offer similar support to your business or organization, please contact us.

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