The effective functioning of the Ombuds Office requires that inquiries, communications and activities are maintained in confidence. Those who contact the Ombuds Office may do so with the assurance of strict confidentiality.
The Ombuds Office and the IOA SOP assert that its confidential communications are privileged, with any such privilege held by the Ombuds Office rather than the person who contacts the office. The Ombuds will not keep permanent records of specific, confidential communications. At the same time the Ombuds Office acts in compliance with applicable public records requirements.
The Ombuds Office may report trends using aggregated data to protect the confidentiality of employees and its operations. The Ombuds Office or shall not disclose to any person, including employees or external parties, the names or identifying information of those who interface with the Ombuds Office. Only with the explicit, advance permission of the respective visitor/caller or respondent, may an Ombuds disclose identifying information. The only exception to this is if an Ombuds determines that there is an imminent risk to health, safety or serious harm to people or property including, for example, assault or child abuse.
Contacting or using the Ombuds Office is voluntary and without prejudice; no one may be compelled or required to do so. Those choosing to work with the Ombuds Office agree to abide by its terms of service including the IOA's COE and SOP. Those who access the Ombuds Office share in the responsibility to preserve, maintain and protect confidentiality and anonymity. The services provided by the Ombuds Office are entirely voluntary and conditioned upon callers, visitors, respondents and/or users of Ombuds services do so freely and willingly with knowledge that the Ombuds Office maintains confidentiality and further it is mutually understood that the callers, visitors, respondents and/or users will not request, call upon, compel or seek to require the Ombuds or Ombuds Office to testify or provide documents concerning confidential communications or otherwise compel participation in any civil action or formal proceeding including litigation, deposition, arbitration, mediation or other formal conflict resolution processes. Working with the Ombuds Office implies complete understanding and voluntary acceptance of these terms of service. Any questions regarding these terms should be discussed with the Ombuds before using Ombuds services.
To the extent allowed by law, USF also agrees and commits to not seek, request, or compel Ombuds Office personnel to disclose any information that would breach any confidentiality or to participate in any internal or external formal process. Employees may contact the Ombuds Office anonymously. Use of anonymity may, however, present certain limitations on the Ombuds Office's ability to be of assistance.