PHILADELPHIA–Today Mayor Kenney signed Executive Order 5-23 establishing the Office of the Employee Ombudsperson. The implementation of this order will further employee rights and ensure the City is a fair and equitable workplace for all.  This order is a key component of the City’s ongoing commitment to promoting a workplace that fosters open communication, transparency, and fairness.  

The Employee Ombudsperson (“Ombuds”) Office provides strategic approaches to addressing workplace concerns brought forth by City employees. It will operate independently from the human resource staff of each City department to provide neutral and impartial assistance to City employees seeking to make, respond to, or resolve allegations of workplace harassment, discrimination, or work-related conflict outside of a formal complaint or grievance process.   

“The City’s creation of this position is nothing short of transformative and demonstrates its commitment to empowering employees. This role resonates deeply with my passion for equity and justice, breaking down barriers in employee engagement, and making our city a better place. This is an incredible chance to impact workplace culture for all City employees while providing evidence-based methods of improving the employee experience,” said Shakeya Foreman, the City of Philadelphia’s Employee Ombudsperson. “As I continue to build the office, I pledge to equip City employees with the tools and knowledge they need to identify, address, and resolve concerns in the workplace to strategically increase their sense of belonging and well-being.” 

The key responsibilities of the Office of the Employee Ombudsperson are to: 

  1. Assist individual City employees in understanding and assessing options and resources for addressing concerns about, or claims of, workplace conduct that may be inappropriate or a violation of the City’s rules, policies, or ordinances that may constitute harassment, discrimination, misconduct, or retaliation (“matters of workplace conflict”).  
  2. Work to develop and implement a voluntary, informal alternative dispute resolution program for addressing matters of workplace conflict involving City employees that are suitable for such resolution.  
  3. Evaluate workplace complaints and matters of workplace conflict of which it becomes aware and, in appropriate circumstances, refer such matters to other City entities. 
  4. Impartially resolve matters of workplace conflict based on all relevant and available information, with full cooperation, and absent interference or undue influence, from City departments, agencies, authorities, boards and commissions. 
  5. Independently identify strategies to reduce the prevalence and mitigate the impact of matters of workplace conflict, both citywide and with respect to specific City departments, agencies, authorities, boards and commissions. 
  6. Maintain anonymized data on the number, types and outcomes of complaints and inquiries received by the office.  
  7. Submit annual reports and anonymized data to the Mayor on: matters of workplace conflict referred to, handled by, and resolved by the office; patterns of workplace conduct identified by the office; and systemic changes needed to create a City work environment free from inappropriate conduct.   
  8. Provide recommendations to the Mayor on improving personnel rules, employee complaint and investigation systems, workplace expectations and trainings, and other applicable City policies, processes and systems to promote a healthy workplace culture.    
  9. Convene and coordinate department heads and other senior leadership as appropriate to implement workplace reforms and promote consistent and equitable processes for addressing workplace concerns. 
  10. Operate free from undue influence by any employee, administrative officer, elected official, or reporting authorities. 
  11. In coordination and cooperation with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, foster a citywide workplace culture that acknowledges and respects the diversity within the City’s workforce and centers principles of accessibility, equity and inclusion. 
  12. Perform such other duties as directed by the Mayor.    

“The implementation of this Office is demonstrative of the City’s ongoing commitment to workplace equity and satisfaction,” said Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Tipton. “This Office is now a confidential and neutral resource for employees to feel recognized, respected, heard, and valued.”  

The implementation of the Office of the Employee Ombudsperson goes into effect immediately and is overseen by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer.  

View Executive Order 5-23 in its entirety.