Investigations Training

There is interest in my two-day Investigations Training.  I have tentatively scheduled the training for April 22 and 23, 2021 (apologize for the short notice).  Part of the motivation for the requests for those dates is for THRP recertification.  NNAHRA has been very kind in allowing my training sessions to count toward THRP recertification. If you are interested in registering for the Zoom training, the Investigations training is $495 per person. Please reach out at [...]

NNAHRA Plus Fall Training

NNAHRA I have the privilege of working with the dedicated NNAHRA team this week in preparation for the NNAHRA Conference starting September 28.  Part of that preparation has included working with the lawyers who will bring you the annual legal update.  The update (in my view) is important this year and will discuss a range of important issues including COVID best practices, confidentiality, jurisdiction (recent Supreme Court decision), changes to the FLSA, modified FMLA forms, [...]

Gratitude & Opportunities

A thank you, a book, investigations, hearings and more articles. First and foremost, I continue to be exceedingly grateful to my colleagues at tribal governments and enterprises for the opportunity to serve during this difficult time.  Even though we are not meeting face to face, we are meeting by phone and videoconference.  That may not be the perfect option but it is the best solution…and it is working.  We are discussing the return of employees, [...]

Three Questions Returning Employees

In this edition three questions are addressed which are relevant to employees returning to work for tribal governments, casinos and other entities.  I have benefitted from consulting with NNAHRA President Judy Wright in thinking about these questions. Can a tribal employer discipline an employee for refusal to work generated by fears about contracting COVID-19 at work? Can a tribal employer terminate an employee who refuses to return to work because of lack of childcare? If [...]

Can a state worker’s compensation court hear a dispute involving an injury incurred by a worker while assisting with the expansion of an on-reservation casino?

Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court said that Minnesota worker's compensation courts have the power (jurisdiction) to hear disputes when the worker is injured in connection with a casino expansion project located on tribal lands.  The employer was an enrolled member of the tribe who contracted with the project’s general contractor.  The construction agreement between the tribe and contractor included a dispute process wherein the parties invoked tribal court jurisdiction.  The subcontractor, for whom the [...]

Do nonunion employees possess Weingarten rights?

Weingarten is a city in southern Germany, a famous piano player, and a grocery store dispute generating a 1975 United States Supreme Court decision wherein employees fought for and won the right to have a union representative present at investigative interviews demanded by the employer.  In this edition, we discuss the Weingarten employee rights case instead of the city or the piano player.  Are you disappointed? There are three essential rules included in Weingarten [...]

What are your answers to 18 questions regarding termination?

As a human resources employee, tribal council member or department director, have you witnessed an employee termination and thought the tribe should have done more to keep the employee?  There are times when an employee is not interested in keeping a job and their poor performance is strong evidence of that weak desire, but on the other hand, there are instances where employees want the job and the employer has failed to create a [...]

Should tribal employers define what is contained in a personnel file?

Yes.  Defining the required contents of personnel files is beneficial to tribal employers for numerous reasons.  First, by defining the contents of a personnel file, the employer defines what is included and just as importantly what is not included in a personnel file. On the latter point, it is not a good practice for employers to place medical records or the content of employee investigations in the personnel file.  Second, by giving directors and [...]

Personal Conduct Policy

When employers define workplace rules through employee handbooks and policy manuals there are some rules included which reach beyond the workplace and extend to conduct while employees are off the clock.  My mind brings ambivalence to recommending these policies because, on the one hand, they are necessary to address egregious off the clock behavior, but like any other policy, they can be abused.  There is little dispute that employers can define employee expectations while the [...]


There are relevant questions of leadership in the news everyday.  Tribal leaders and powerful citizen voices are challenging the status quo at the DAPL, President Obama is passing the baton to a new group and the human resources team is considering its goals for 2017.  I am reading Extreme Ownership (Willnick & Babin, St. Martin’s Press 2015) and in the final chapter the authors provide an excellent summary of leadership. This summary of the important leadership [...]

What are the ingredients of a job description which exceeds expectations?

Here are the dozen reasons to update job descriptions to the reality of the workplace in 2016. 1.    Checklist for Hiring A well drafted job description should serve as the primary measuring stick in evaluating whether a candidate for employment meets the requirements of the job.  The job description, as a checklist for hiring, should strongly influence the questions asked in the interview process. 2.    Delegation of Duties Once the candidate is hired, the [...]

What Best Practices Define Successful Investigations of Employee Conduct?

Tribal employers define workplace rules with the expectation that employees will follow the rules and in most instances good behavior is the result, but there are times when employees fall short of the mark.  In those instances when employees fall short of the mark, when should you conduct a formal investigation in evaluating the employee's conduct?  Here are ten respectful suggestions regarding the best practices surrounding employee investigations.  Note, these suggestions are summarized in [...]

Should human resources directors be part of the executive team?

On the tribal government side of the street, the executive team is frequently comprised of the tribal administrator, assistant administrator, finance director, and Council liaison. On the other side of the street, the casino's executive team includes the general manager, assistant general manager, gaming director and director of resort activities. The question posed is whether the human resource director should be included as part of the executive team on both sides of the street. [...]

10 Things HR Needs to Know About Gaming

Human Resources needs to know a lot about all of the acronyms (FLSA, FMLA, NLRA and more) and the numbers (I-9, 638 funds and PL 101-630), and for those HR professionals serving tribal casinos, in addition to the acronyms and numbers, insight regarding gaming is a prerequisite to success.  Here is a list of ten things HR needs to know about gaming to navigate some of the unique aspects of the relevant rules.  Actually, [...]

Employees Playing Football

The NFL ended its season with an exciting Super Bowl proving the league continues to popular, but some of its employment practices are at odds with the best practices endorsed by tribal employers. Comparing and contrasting the employment practices of the NFL and Tribes is an interesting, and may be, a useful exercise. There is a lot of touching in the NFL which would not be endorsed in a tribal workplace. In the NFL it appears [...]

What is the role of casino employer in performing due diligence in evaluating prospective employees?

Where a clear and limited delegation of authority is granted to the gaming commission, the employment function is the exclusive province of the tribal casino.  Accordingly, tribal casinos have a duty to perform the full range of employment functions which include hiring, firing, disciplining and coaching employees. The only role of the gaming commission in the employment process is, for some or all of the employees of the tribal casino, a license from the [...]

How to Best Document Employee Behavior?

The line between good documentation which serves the employer’s interests and documentation which does not is driven by numerous elements which are discussed below.  Before addressing the ingredients which are evident in good documentation, an examination of why employers document is necessary. Why document employee behavior? Provide Managers with a record.  In the absence of perfect memory, managers need to document the good behavior and the behavior needing improvement.  And in those instances when [...]

Can employees sue in tribal court when they are defamed?

Yes.  Last month a tribal court stated that an employee of the tribe could sue when a pamphlet was circulated at tribal meetings stating that the employee was terminated by the tribe because she lost millions of dollars in third party billings and after she was fired she violated the nepotism policy by getting her family to intervene and return her to her job.  Unfortunately for defendants, none of these allegations were true.  Please [...]

Should employment at-will be part of a supervisor’s typical conversation with an employee?

Answer:  No. As a general rule directors, managers and supervisors should not discuss employees’ at-will status with employees they supervise.  I do not object to a conversation about at-will, but oftentimes, I object to the purpose for having the conversation.  On the one hand, if an employee seeks a better understanding of at-will, supervisors should discuss the policy and its application.  No objection.  On the other hand, in my experience, conversations about at-will are [...]


Lots of people like the convenience, selection and efficiency of buying things from Amazon.  You know Amazon, the Seattle based company not the rainforest near the equator filled with snakes and bugs. Tribal Human Resources is in the business of customer service and upon examination, the principles of leadership, if applied, embraced and practiced will assist Human Resources in delivering the best customer service.  Here are those principles with color commentary. Customer Obsession Leaders start with [...]