Grievance and Appeal Procedures for
Human Resources Professionals
in Indian Country

Get your HR certificate and upgrade your credentials. This class can be counted toward the maintenance of your Indian Country Human Resource Certification. Click here or call 1-800-992-4489 for details.

The purpose of the grievance and appeal process is to protect employees from improper treatment or management errors, but it must ensure fairness for employees and the tribal organization. Without a doubt, managing the process is challenging for tribal employers.

This class will provide human resources professionals with tools to minimize the risk of claims and develop grievance process models and policies that are consistent and fair to all parties. It will offer an overview of the Indian Civil Rights Act and its impact on grievance policies and employment claims. We’ll walk you through a typical hearing and share the latest case law.

Whether you’re an experienced human resources professional or a newcomer, you’ll walk away from this session better prepared to address the difficult area of grievances and appeals. Your newly gained knowledge will make you a vital asset to your organization.

T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Fundamental Questions
  • What is a grievance?
  • What is progressive discipline?
  • What are employee complaint policies?
  • What is due process?
  • Why give employees due process?
  • What’s in it for employers?
  • Are tribal leaders, employees and officials potentially individually liable?
Employer-Employee Relationships
  • At-will
  • For-cause
  • Grievances
  • Due process
  • Employee handbook
  • Policies and procedures
  • Contracts
  • Waiver of immunity for employee claims
  • Chain of command
  • Typical grievance issues
  • The options
  • Sample policy
  • Pitfalls
  • Benefits and detriments
  • Grievance procedure models
  • Procedure for handling employee grievances
  • Case law
  • Rules of evidence:
    • Limiting testimony
Sample Grievance Procedures
  • Common ingredients in sound grievance policies
  • Can different elements be combined to form unique policies?
  • Traditional approaches to dispute resolutions
Role of the Tribal Court
  • Scope of review
  • Delegation of th epower of review
  • Exhaustion of administrative remedies
Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA)
  • ICRA’s impact on tribal grievance policies
  • ICRA’s impact on employment claims
  • What the courts say
  • Effects of the tribal constitution, traditions and customs and other tribal laws
  • Potential theories of liability under the Act
  • Incorporation of ICRA
  • Effect on tribal due process
  • Application to Indians and non-Indians
Minimizing Risk
  • Minimizing risk in employment-related claims
  • What kinds of claims are tribes facing?
  • Methods for minimizing employment claims risks
Federal Employment Laws
  • Which laws apply and which don’t?
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB):
    • Impact of decisions on grievances and appeals
  • Opinion vs. fact
  • Frequency
  • Training
  • Role of documentation in grievances and court
  • Who has jurisdiction in reviewing tribal employment claims?
  • Montana v. United States
  • Role of consent to tribal jurisdiction
  • Exclusivity
Traditional Dispute Mechanisms
  • Is there a role for traditional tribal dispute mechanisms?
  • Talking circles
  • Peacemaker forums
Compare and Contrast
  • What are at-will and for-cause employment?
  • Can an employer use at-will and have a grievance policy?
  • Is a license revocation hearing the same thing as a grievance proceeding?
Legal Perspective
  • Can a grievance policy serve to limit employer liability?
  • Must tribal employers offer grievance policies?
  • Will grievances expose weak supervisors and poor policy?
  • Should employers appoint employee advocates?
Standard of Review
  • How is the “standard of review” defined?
  • Why is it important?
  • Should the tribal court participate?
  • Should grievance committees receive training?
  • Exercise — a grievance hearing in action

*Topics subject to change.

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