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Column: Tackling employment rights at tribal gaming facilities

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: employment, immunity, nlrb, tribal courts, unions

The Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Photo from Google+

Attorney Donna Ballman discusses employment rights at tribal casinos:
I get questions about liability of tribal casinos a lot because my office is just a few miles from a major one here in Florida. In general, Native American reservations are considered to be on sovereign soil, and therefore the tribes are usually not subject to U.S. employment laws. The tribes have sovereign immunity, the same as if they were a foreign country. Tribes can waive sovereign immunity in contracts, so if you have an employment contract it's possible, but not very likely, that you have a waiver of immunity in your contract.

Some states have specifically negotiated contracts with tribes giving the states jurisdiction over issues involving casino employees. Michigan is an example of a state that has jurisdiction over casino employees.

Another way tribes waive sovereign immunity is in contracts with governments or corporations. If the tribe is getting federal funding for their casino or a project in the casino, then they might have waived immunity.

Some courts have ruled that certain U.S. employment laws apply to Indian tribes. For instance, the National Labor Relations Board will hear claims regarding certain labor law violations by companies owned by tribes, but not the tribes themselves and tribes.

Get the Story:
Donna Ballman: Do I Have Workplace Rights If I Work In An Indian Casino? (AOL Jobs 6/7)

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