Best Ohio Employment Discrimination Lawyer Answer: Does Federal employment law apply on tribal land? Can I sue for wrongful termination because I’m Native American? Can I be treated worse than my coworkers because I’m Native American?
Sitting in Cleveland, Ohio, we are right in the middle of the RNC. So, our employment discrimination blog will take a political slant today. Our employment law attorneys have tackled political issues before. (See Why Are Ohio Law Makers Making It Easier For Your Boss To Discriminate And Sexually Harass You? Our Lawyers Need Your Help To Stop Them!). As it grows increasingly likely that our nation’s next president will either be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, Americans everywhere are bracing for the coming months of debate, political advertisements and – hopefully – comical political parodies on Saturday Night Live. As the campaigns heat up so do the passions of their ardent supporters. Whoever is victorious will more than likely be responsible for appointing at least one justice to the United States Supreme Court and this appointment yields great power. The current dynamic of the Court is split down the middle so the next president gets to appoint the presumptive tie breaker which will probably have a huge impact on laws in the United States.
One recent outcome of the vacant seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing is a tied decision prompted a decision of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to be upheld. This decision has a huge impact on the future of the conditions of employment and application of employment law on tribal land for Native American employees.
The facts leading up to the decision in Dolgencorp v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, involve a 13 year old intern at a Dollar General store located on tribal land. The young intern is a member of the Choctaw tribe and a participant in a youth program organized by the tribe. The tribe created the program to partner with local businesses and place youth interns at the participating locations. The tribe paid the wages, the businesses benefited from the intern’s efforts and the intern earned valuable experience and life skills. Sounds great up to this point, right? The problem is that this intern alleged that his manager sexually assaulted him during his internship at the Dollar General.
The intern and his parents sued the employer through the tribe’s court system rather than in state court and Dollar General sought to prevent the case from moving forward. Several of the decisions in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal impact the future of employment law on tribal land. In order to determine whether the tribe had the authority to hear the case and essentially regulate non-tribal activities, the Court needed to determine whether there was a commercial relationship between the intern and store. In holding that there was such a relationship, the court rejected Dollar General’s position stating:
In other words, Dolgencorp argues that noncommercial relationships do not give rise to tribal jurisdiction under the first Montana exception. We decline to impose such a restriction, which does not appear to be supported by any compelling rationale. Moreover, such a requirement would be easily satisfied in this case. Although Doe worked for only a brief time at the Dollar General store and was not paid, he was essentially an unpaid intern, performing limited work in exchange for job training and experience. This is unquestionably a relationship “of a commercial nature.”
The implication beyond this case is spelled out in the decision: the tribe may be able to continue to regulate the employment of tribal members – particularly matters concerning the health and safety of tribe members employed on tribal land – and businesses may be vicariously liable for the actions of their non-member employees or subject to the tribe’s employment rules that differ from state and federal law.
As our employment lawyers have blogged about before, Native Americans enjoy the same protections from race or religious discrimination and harassment under federal law. Even though this case originated in Mississippi, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.02(A) are in place to protect employees in Ohio from being treated differently based on membership in a protected class or protected activity. Ohio laws make it an unlawful discriminatory practice for any employer to “discharge without just cause, to refuse to hire, or otherwise to discriminate against that person with respect to hire, tenure, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or any matter directly or indirectly related to employment” based on race, religion or national origin.
If you are searching “I need a lawyer because I have been wrongfully fired or terminated;” or “I have been discriminated against based on my …” race, national origin, gender, age, religion or disability; or even think that you might need an employment lawyer, then it would be best to call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040. The Spitz Law Firm and its attorneys are experienced and dedicated to protecting employees’ rights and solving employment disputes.
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