Sessions Summaries

Tribal Employment Law & Standards for Tribal Leaders, Executives, Administrators & Directors. 2 days.

This session addresses the impact of self-determination, sovereignty, immunity, jurisdiction, federal funds, federal and state law, tradition and custom on tribal employment practices. Moreover, the session addresses important questions like….Do tribal employers have to follow state employment laws? What about federal employment laws? How does preference really work? How does TERO impact preference? Can tribal employers define the terms and conditions of employment and how is that done? What is at-will employment? What is for-cause employment? Can employees say impolite things on social media and be held accountable? What are the fundamentals of those federal laws which tribes most likely follow? How do employee references work? What is the federal background law? What are harassment, discrimination and protected class and how are they related?

Tribal Employment Law & Standards for Tribal Leaders, Executives, Administrators & Directors. 4 hours.

This session is a shortened version of the two day class. Some tribal leaders are not able to allocate two days to the full session (discussed above) but those leaders can devote half a day to these important ideas before making decisions about promulgating employment codes, modifying the tribe’s preference policy or updating the employee handbook.

Due Process for Tribal Employers. 2 days.

Is the tribe a fair employer? Does the grievance procedure serve the tribal employer and its employees? Does the tribe provide meaningful due process for its employees? In this session due process is defined by evaluating the common law, Indian Civil Rights Act, tribal policy and procedure, and tribal tradition and custom. What is the role of clearly defining expectations for employees? How do tribal employers hold employees accountable to those standards? What formal and informal protocols are in place to provide employees an opportunity to be heard? What is a meaningful grievance, complaint and appeal procedure? If the tribal court has a role, what is that role?

Effective Employee Misconduct Investigations. 2 days.

Tribal employers investigate allegations of employee misconduct. Misconduct, in various forms, including harassment, hostile work environment, discrimination, theft, bullying and violence. This session addresses the questions of when, who and how to investigate these claims. Should the investigator be from human resources or from the respondent’s department? When should tribal employers engage an outside investigator? How do investigators plan the investigation? What are the best practices for interviewing the victim, respondent and witnesses? How do investigators prepare their reports? Who decides on discipline if there is discipline?

Best Practices in Documenting Employee Conduct. 1 day.

Tribal employers reward employees for exceeding expectations and help lead employees not meeting expectations to better performance. An essential ingredient of managing employees is documenting employee performance when the employee is performing well and when the employee is challenged by defined expectations. Moreover, sound documentation practices increase employer fairness, and in most instances, will reduce potential legal liability. This session also includes practical suggestions for specific phrases addressing a variety of disciplinary circumstances.

Drafting Policy & Procedure for Tribal Employers. 2 days.

If good fences make good neighbors, strong employment policies help make strong employees. This session addresses the best practices for creating a system of policies and procedures which best serves the tribal employer and employees. The session provides respectful suggestions for defining the terms and conditions of employment through employee handbooks, standard operating procedures and job descriptions. Thereafter, there is a detailed and useful conversation on creating or modifying the handbook.

Sexual Harassment Training. 90 minutes for non-supervisors. 3 hours for supervisors, managers, directors & leaders.

Tribal employers work hard at maintaining a work environment free from harassment including sexual harassment. As part of that effort, regular training for all employees is consistent with best practices. Regular training reinforces the message that harassment will not be tolerated and will demonstrate to employees and the courts that the tribal employer is actively addressing this issue. For 24 hour operations (like gaming), the training can be provided multiple times over a couple days wherein all of the employees of the enterprise can have the benefit of this very important training.

Family & Medical Leave Act. 1 day.

The FMLA may or may not apply to tribal employers but many tribal employers have embraced the idea of providing time off to employees to deal with health issues faced by the employee and their family. Furthermore the FMLA provides time off for the birth, adoption and foster care of children as well as for military preparation leave. The session addresses the law, the relevant regulations and the statutory forms.

Fair Labor Standards Act. 1 day.

The FLSA may or may not apply to tribal employers but many tribal employers follow the rules defined by the FLSA as to overtime pay, minimum wage, glass ceiling and youth employment. The session addresses those topics and whether workers are properly classified as independent contractors, and if a worker is an employee, whether the employee is exempt or non-exempt. Moreover, the session addresses travel time, on-call, waiting time, comp time and double time.


Tribal employers, in addition to the above sessions, add the following modules to the standard sessions: separation agreements, responding to regulators, whistleblower protection, ethics, nepotism, retaliation, mental illness in the workplace, medical marijuana, I-9 compliance, off the clock behavior, and social media and the workplace.

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