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 [...]