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City Council Committee Advances Mayor Durkan’s Legislation to Establish the Office of the Employee Ombud

To Help Combat Harassment and Discrimination, New Office Would Provide Independent, Impartial, and Informal Navigation to City Employees

Seattle (December 6, 2018) – The Seattle City Council’s Housing, Health, Energy, and Workers’ Rights committee advanced Mayor Jenny A. Durkan’s legislation to establish an Office of the Employee Ombud (OEO) that would operate independently from the Seattle Department of Human Resources (SDHR) and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Mayor Durkan transmitted the legislation to the City Council in October and her 2019-2020 budget includes resources for the new office.

“An Office of the Employee Ombud is critical to ensuring that the City can better address instances of harassment, discrimination, and misconduct, and it allows City employees to have an independent resource available,” said Mayor Durkan. “Thank you to Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, the entire Anti-Harassment Interdepartmental Team, and the thousands of City employees who are helping us make these changes a reality. I look forward to the full Council passage of this critical and urgent legislation as soon as possible.”

“I’m grateful for the IDT members, the Silence Breakers, labor unions, and Mayor Durkan, for their time and work developing the OEO,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, Position 8, Citywide. “After years of mistrust of management, fear of retaliation, and concerns over accountability, the legislation transmitted and changes incorporated today take significant steps to create impactful and lasting change. I know the work isn’t over, and I will continue to work with employees across the city, their labor unions, departments and community expert on ongoing changes to ensure that every employee enjoys a workplace free of harassment and intimidation.”

The OEO would evaluate systemic impacts and patterns of misconduct and will provide annual reports to the Mayor’s Office and City Council with recommendations to improve the City’s Personnel Rules, complaint and investigations systems, workplace expectations, and other applicable City processes and systems.

In September, Mayor Durkan issued an Executive Order to implement a series of changes, including the creation of the OEO, to reform and update how the City addresses allegations of harassment, discrimination, and other forms of misconduct. These actions were informed by 35 recommendations and 125 strategies from the Anti-Harassment Interdepartmental Team, established by the Mayor in January.