Court OKs DOI Lease Giving Preference To Tribe

By Mike Grubbs

Since 2001, the EEOC has been contending that an employer, operating on Navajo tribal lands under a special leases, approved by the Department of Interior, could not hire members of the Navajo tribe in preference to members of other tribes. The EEOC argued that, under Title VII, the employer could exercise a preference for American Indians, as a group, but could not prefer members of one tribe over members of another.

The federal court in Arizona has upheld lease provisions. In the national origin discrimination suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court granted summary judgment to the employer on the grounds that the Navajo hiring preference was a lawful political classification and fell outside Title VII altogether.   The case is EEOC v Peabody Western Coal Company, No. CV 01-01050-PHX-JWS October 17, 2012.

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