HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 21Issue 28Soaring Eagle Requests Review of Sixth Circuit Decision

On Monday, August 24, 2015, the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort (“Soaring Eagle”) filed a petition with the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for a rehearing with all judges regarding its ongoing litigation with the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). The case was previously decided by a panel of three judges from the court, who expressed their disagreement with prior holdings but ultimately decided the case in accordance with this past precedent.

On July 1, 2015, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit ruled in favor of the NLRB regarding a labor dispute involving an employee who was disciplined and later dismissed by Soaring Eagle for violating the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s non-solicitation ordinances. The employee filed a grievance with the NLRB, which took action against Soaring Eagle for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”) which allows for employee organization. Soaring Eagle challenged the ruling, claiming that tribal sovereign immunity bars NLRB jurisdiction over tribal labor relations.

In its unique July decision, the Sixth Circuit panel stated that the Act should not apply to the tribe under traditional notions of tribal sovereignty. However, it ultimately held that it was bound to hold that the Act did apply due to the court’s recent ruling in NLRB v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, which adopted a stricter legal test regarding issues of tribal sovereign immunity and federal agency oversight. The Little Riverdecision occurred only three weeks prior to the Soaring Eagle ruling.

Soaring Eagle argues in its petition that the full panel of judges should review the decision due to the disparity between the rulings and established law. “Because Little Riverwon the race to judgment, the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe lost its appeal and is left with a decision that every member of the panel that heard its case agrees is contrary to controlling law. Such an unlikely result clouds the legitimacy of the appellate process. En banc consideration is necessary to secure uniformity across the Court’s decisions and to realign its precedent with the Supreme Court.” Petition, p. 11-12. 

The court has yet to rule on the petition. The case is Soaring Eagle Casio Resort v. NLRB, Case No. 14-2405.


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