HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 22Issue 21U.S. SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO REVIEW CASES AFFIRMING NAITIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD’S OVERSIGHT OF NATIVE AMERICAN CASINOS

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court declined to review two U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings that impact how Tribal casinos located within the Sixth Circuit can govern labor relations at their properties. By declining to hear the cases, the Supreme Court let stand the Sixth Circuit rulings that the NLRB has oversight to regulate casino labor relations on Native American Indian lands.

Both cases were previously heard separately by the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court, which ultimately ruled in favor of the NLRB. The cases concerned employee labor disputes arising at the Soaring Eagle Casino Resort and the Little River Casino Resort.

The Sixth Circuit’s reasoning in the underlying Little River case centered around the fact that most patrons and employees of the casino are not tribal members, so imposing jurisdiction does not infringe the Tribe’s sovereignty. The decision prohibited the owners of the casino from enforcing its own labor laws at the facility because certain provisions conflicted with the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).

“The right to conduct commercial enterprises free of federal regulation is not an aspect of tribal self-government,” the majority Sixth Circuit decision stated. “And Indian tribes are not shielded from general federal statutes because the application of those statutes may incidentally affect the revenue streams of tribal commercial operations that fund tribal government.”

The Little River Band opinion affirmed the NLRB’s decision requiring the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort to allow its workers to discuss or promote unionization under certain circumstances. Notably, in April of 2013, the NLRB issued an opinion affiring the application of the Act regarding Soaring Eagle Casino’s non-unionization policies (359 NLRB No. 92).

To access the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed with the United States Supreme Court, please click the below links:

· Little River Band Petition

· Soaring Eagle Petition

 

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