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Abstract

The American Bar Association (ABA) recently announced its decision to endorse the revised Standards for the Establishment and Operation of Ombuds Offices, dated February 2004.1 A modification to the 2001 Standards for the Establishment and Operation of Ombuds Offices, 2 the new Standards are responsible for certain clarifications of the role of an ombuds. One such clarification is that of notice in the employment context. Under the new Standards, communications made to an ombuds regarding complaints of violations or unlawful practices within the workplace do not constitute notice to the employer, provided that the ombud's practices are consistent with the core qualities an ombud's office must possess under the Standards. As the 2001 Standards did not address the issue of notice, the new notice provision is particularly important. Because numerous employment dispute proceedings throughout the past few decades have resulted in a judicial finding that an employer received constructive notice of some discriminatory action or other violation within the workplace, the new notice provision is a significant development in the area of employment disputes. The benefits of the new provision will likely extend to both ombuds in the workplace and the entities for which such ombuds work. This Comment explores the backdrop against which notice in the employment context has traditionally been considered, and examines both the rationale employed in forming the new notice provision and the future implications of the provision in the employment context.

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