Law and Politics

Are Indian-Owned Casinos Exempt From Labor Laws?

June 17, 2015
By LaborPress

Two recent legal decisions have split on the question of whether workers at casinos owned by Indian tribes are protected by federal labor laws. On June 4, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed a complaint by Teamsters Local 886 against WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, saying that asserting jurisdiction over the Chickasaw-owned casino “would abrogate treaty rights.”

The union had charged that management threatened blackjack dealers who were trying to organize. But five days later, the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the NLRB does have jurisdiction to rule on a complaint against a casino in Manistee, Michigan run by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. The tribe had outlawed strikes by workers. Tribal sovereignty does not “immunize the operation of Indian commercial gaming enterprises,” the court held, especially as most of the casino’s workers were neither members of the tribe nor residents of the reservation.“What's developing is a split in the circuits. It makes it ripe for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court," said Oklahoma City Michael Burrage, who is representing the Chickasaw Nation. Read more

June 16, 2015

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