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Sage Hospital Regains IHS Funding

November 23, 2016

In two precedent setting opinions, the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico ruled that, under recent amendments to the federal venue statute, suit against the Indian Health Service was properly brought in the District of New Mexico based on the domicile of one of the individual defendants and that the IHS could not refuse to renew an Self Determination Act contract to the Navajo Health Foundation-Sage Memorial Hospital ("Hospital") based on any of the five declination criteria applicable to new contracting. The Court issued a preliminary injunction requiring IHS to fund the Hospital at pre-dispute levels pending final resolution of the dispute. The District Court by Memorandum Opinion and Order on August 31, 2015 (amended Oct. 26, 2015) then granted the Hospital's motion for summary judgment, ruling that IHS unlawfully declined to approve the Hospital's three-year contract renewal proposals and approve and fully fund the Hospital's proposed FY 2014 and FY 2015 Annual Funding Agreements.


November 12, 2014

The Firm announced today that the federal District Court has dismissed with prejudice (meaning that the case may not be refiled) a second lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission challenging Navajo employment preferences on the Navajo Nation. An earlier precedent-setting case handled by the Firm and decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2014 had determined that Navajo preference was lawful for mineral leases, ruling that 'federal law yields out of respect for treaty rights or the federal policy fostering tribal self-determination.' Today's dismissal of the second lawsuit, EEOC v. Bashas', Inc. and Navajo Nation, No. 2:05-cv-02382, confirms that business site leases entered into under a different set of federal statutes but also requiring Navajo preference in employment are also lawful. There are 326 such leases, and these leases are the basis of the Navajo Nation's commercial economy.

Today's dismissal of the EEOC's lawsuit against Bashas' and the Navajo Nation confirms that Navajo-specific employment preference on Navajo lands is lawful, alive and well. As a defendant in both lawsuits filed by the EEOC, the Navajo Nation never wavered in its commitment to defend Navajo law and policy mandating that preference in employment be given to qualified Navajo applicants. Today's dismissal of the Bashas' case underscores the longstanding commitment of the Navajo Nation Department of Justice and this Firm to safeguarding the long-term sovereign interests of the Navajo Nation and the prosperity of present and future generations of Navajo people.

EEOC's Challenge to Navajo Tribal Preference in Employment Rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

September 26, 2014

In a precedent-setting opinion, the lawfulness of the Navajo tribal employment preference provisions in the Peabody coal leases was confirmed today by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Nation was represented by this Firm, which defended the Nation against a claim by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that under Title VII, a federal law, hiring preferences on Navajo tribal lands had to be extended to any and all Native Americans and could not be limited to Navajo tribal members. The EEOC's claim was flatly rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the Navajo tribal hiring preferences challenged by EEOC ensured "that the economic value of the mineral leases on tribal lands inures to the benefit of the tribe and its members." The Court went on to hold that Title VII's prohibition against national origin discrimination in the workplace does not reach Navajo tribal employment preferences based on tribal membership. The Ninth Circuit recognized that "federal law yields out of respect for treaty rights or the federal policy fostering tribal self-determination."

As a defendant in the lawsuit filed by EEOC, the Navajo Nation never waivered in its commitment to defend Navajo tribal employment provisions throughout more than a decade of litigation, which included three separate appeals to the Ninth Circuit and two petitions to the United States Supreme Court. Today's victory underscores the longstanding commitment of this Firm to successfully safeguarding the long term sovereign interests of Native Nations.
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