Lawsuit filed against ‘at-will’ law

LOS ANGELES

Tribal employees who have been fired as a result of a new law that makes program managers “at-will” employees are fighting back.

Two of those who have found themselves fired, Harold Scow and Harrison Smith, filed a lawsuit in Navajo Nation court Wednesday in an effort to have their terminations overturned and to get their jobs back.

They are being represented by Gallup attorney David Jordan, who said he is getting at least one new client a week be because of the law and its effects on tribal employees and families.

The lawsuit claims that the new law violates Navajo Nation laws that prohibit tribal employees from being penalized or disciplined or to have any action against them without just cause.

The 2018 law passed by the Navajo Nation Council made program managers at-will employees subject to termination for any reason or no reason at all.

And that is what apparently is happening, said Jordan.

Some of Jordan’s clients say that their termination notice gives a reason and then states that they are not eligible to file a grievance, to contest the action, with the labor commission because of the new law. In some cases, he said, the termination notice does not give a reason but just states that they cannot file a grievance.

But Navajo Nation leaders may be taking the new law too far since two of those who were fired and were told they no longer had the right to file grievance were not even program managers.


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About The Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.