Conflict Resolution, Stress Reduction, and Legal Resources for Postdocs

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COVID-19 Related Emotional Support and Well-Being Resources

For COVID-related emotional support and well-being resouces, see

Office of the Ombudsperson

The Office of the Ombudsperson offers confidential and anonymous support and advocacy to Duke postdoctoral appointees from both Campus and School of Medicine departments and administrative units.

The Ombudsperson addresses postdoc concerns about how and when to approach existing resources (e.g., Staff and Labor Relations, Office of Institutional Equity, Chair's or Dean's Offices) when they feel mistreated or have a conflict with another member of the Duke community. The role of the Ombudsman is to investigate and facilitate resolution of allegations by postdoctoral appointees of perceived unfair, inappropriate, discriminating or harassing treatment or behavior by faculty, staff, administrators, or fellow postdocs. This includes violations of University policy of equal treatment without regard to race, creed, religion, color, veteran status, sex, sexual preference, age, national or ethnic origin, or handicap.

The responsibilities of the Office of the Ombudsperson include:

  1. Providing a neutral, safe and confidential environment to talk.
  2. Listening to concerns and complaints and helping to evaluate and choose the most appropriate option.
  3. Participating in facilitated meetings where appropriate.
  4. Providing information and referrals to appropriate University and/or School of Medicine resources.

The Ombudsperson does not constitute notice to the institution with regard to grievances or complaints and does not:

  1. Adjudicate or participate in formal university grievances.
  2. Determine guilt of any party in a dispute.
  3. Get involved in any formal litigation or testify in court.
  4. Provide legal advice.
  5. Assign sanctions on individuals.
  6. Replace any official University office, department or process.
  7. Keep records of postdocs and/or conversations.

Dean Nancy Andrews appointed Jean Spaulding, MD to be the Ombudsperson. Dr. Spaulding has a long and accomplished history at Duke University. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a Trustee of the Duke Endowment and a graduate of the School of Medicine. Dr. Spaulding has a deep and long-standing interest in the health and welfare of Duke trainees and a wealth of experience helping people to navigate complex interpersonal situations.

To contact the Ombudsperson with a concern you would like to discuss, email or call Dr. Spaulding's office at (919) 668-3326.

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Duke Dispute Resolution Process

Duke is committed to fair and equitable treatment for all staff. Duke has established the Dispute Resolution Process for fair, orderly, and prompt resolution of disagreements. All regular staff who have successfully completed the 90-day orientation and evaluation period of employment are eligible to use the Dispute Resolution Procedure when policy disagreements arise.

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Duke Office for Institutional Equity

The Office for Institutional Equity provides institutional leadership in enhancing respectful, diverse and inclusive work and learning environments for the Duke Community. OIE provides a range of services that uphold values of equity and diversity, as well as support compliance efforts in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action and harassment prevention.

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Duke Personal Assistance Service

Personal Assistance Service (PAS) is the faculty/employee assistance program of Duke University. The staff of licensed professionals offer assessment, short-term counseling, and referrals to help resolve a range of personal, work, and family problems. PAS services are available at no charge to Duke faculty and staff, and their immediate family members.

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Duke Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Benefits

Duke offers both outpatient and inpatient behavioral health and substance abuse benefits under each of our medical plans. Benefits are administered through Cigna Behavioral Health.

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Mental Health and Stress Resources from Duke Health & Wellness

Stress is a fact of life. But when you have too much or it lasts too long, stress can take a physical and psychological toll on your health and well-being. It can aggravate existing medical conditions or create new ones. Family, finances and work issues usually top the list of causes of stress. It is important to find a healthy balance in your life. Learning how to manage your stress is your best method of treatment as well as prevention.

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Mindfulness Activites in the Student Wellness Center

Members of the Duke community (students, postdocs, faculty and staff) are invited to relax, reduce stress and anxiety, and recharge through a variety of wellness experiences, including yoga, mindfulness meditation, knitting, drum circles, tea-tasting, and tai chi.

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Legal Resources

The organizations listed below provide legal information or, in some cases, legal representation. Please note that these referrals do not constitute an endorsement. Postdocs should perform due diligence before entering into agreements, negotations, or financial transactions with any organization.

Lawyer Assistance Program
The Duke Graduate and Professional Student Council (GPSC) and Duke Student Government have partnered with a local law firm, Goddard & Peterson PLLC, to provide the Lawyer Assistance Program. Attorneys are available every Monday from 4-7 pm during the fall and spring semester. The attorneys may be able to answer questions regarding a wide range of legal issues, including street law (eg, speeding tickets, traffic accidents) landlord-tenant disputes (eg, rental agreements) and police-community interactions. Please note that while this service is primarily for students, lawyers may be able to meet with members of the Duke postdoctoral community if space allows.

North Carolina Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
The North Carolina Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service can connect you to private attorneys in your area. Attorneys participating in the Lawyer Referral Service do not work for free. Attorneys make themselves available for a one-time meeting to the public at a reduced rate, charging a fee of no more than $50 for an initial 30-minute consultation. Fees for consultations longer than 30 minutes and fees for ongoing representation are set by each lawyer.

NC State Bar
If you have a legal problem and are looking for a lawyer in North Carolina, the North Carolina State Bar has advice and resources to assist you.

Law Help of NC
Law Help of NC has information on legal problems including housing issues, landlord and tenant issues, immigration and work visas, the legal system (state, federal, criminal and civil civil court, jury duty) and how to file a consumer complaint.

North Carolina Court System: Information for Citizens
If you or a family member or friend are about to go to court, this information can help you navigate the way through the process. Includes frequently asked questions, criminal background check information, small claims court information, and courthouse maps and forms for civil and criminal cases to help understand court procedures.

Compass Center for Women and Families
The Compass Center provides legal information primarily regarding Family Law in North Carolina. Family Law covers all aspects of Separation, Divorce, Child Custody, Support and Visitation, Alimony, Property Settlement, and Domestic Violence.

American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina
The ACLU of North Carolina works on cases that involve violations of civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution and related laws, such as your rights to due process, equal protection, religious freedom, privacy, speech, association, and your rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and from cruel and unusual punishment.

Legal Aid of North Carolina
Most of the legal services organizations in North Carolina are a part of, or affiliated with, Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). These legal services organizations serve low-income people who reside in the counties assigned to each local office. Legal Services handles only civil cases (not criminal cases). Typical cases are landlord-tenant disputes, denial of government benefits, domestic violence and consumer disputes; however, each local office makes its own decisions about which types of cases it can accept. The client's income in most cases must be below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. Due to limited funds and staff, these offices are not able to handle all cases presented to them.

Duke Law provides a list of legal resources.

Legal Research for Non-Lawyers from Duke Goodson Law Library.

Duke Office of Counsel provides a list of legal resources.

While Duke cannot provide legal advice, click here for a list of other legal resources that may be helpful (Duke NetID login required).

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