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Indian Nations Law Update - January 2012

January 12, 2012

Godfrey & Kahn Hosts 23rd Annual Labor and Employment Conference at Three Locations
Godfrey & Kahn's Labor & Employment Law Practice Group will present its annual Labor and Employment Law Conference in March at three locations throughout the State of Wisconsin. The seminar will include an update on recent changes in federal and state employment law, a discussion of best practices and practical approaches to managing employment law problems. All conferences run from 8:30 am to noon. locations and dates are as follows:

Tuesday, March 20
Lambeau Field
1265 Lombardi Ave
Green Bay, WI 54304

Wednesday, March 21
Monona Terrace
One John Nolan Drive
Madison, WI 53703

Thursday, March 22
Crowne Plaza -­ Milwaukee
10499 Innovation Drive
Wauwatosa, WI 53226

The seminar, which is offered free of charge, is designed to serve the needs of executives, in-house counsel, human resource professionals and front-line supervisors. Godfrey & Kahn has applied for 3 recertification credit hours toward PHR, SPHR and GPHR recertification through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI). We have applied for approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for 3 hours of use toward the Wisconsin mandatory CLE requirements.

For more information or questions regarding the seminars, please contact Katelin Botsford at or 414.287.9269.

In Indian country, employment matters have special importance because employees are also often tribal members, voters, family members and friends. Employment disputes are not merely business issues but social and political issues. The practice of labor and employment law in Indian country requires an understanding of this unique backdrop.

While the March seminar will not focus on Indian country issues specifically, Godfrey & Kahn's Indian Nations Law team has extensive experience working with tribes on a wide-variety of employment and labor-related issues, including:

  • Strategies to protect tribal enterprises from labor union organization challenges and National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) issues
  • Tribal Employment Rights (TERO) and other employment rights issues
  • Internal investigations
  • Fair Labor Standards Act issues
  • Family Medical Leave Act issues
  • Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and other benefits issues
  • FICA, FUTA & Income Tax Withholding Issues
  • Employee Handbooks and Best Practices advice
  • Litigation

For more information, contact Brian Pierson at 414.287.9456 or

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Self-Determination Act Support Costs Appeal

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari January 6th in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter. The Ramah Navajo Chapter had sued the Secretary of the Department of Interior (DOI) and others to recover the full contract support costs (CSC) associated with programs operated by the Chapter under self-determination contracts with the DOI pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination Act (ISDA), which mandates that government agencies fully fund ISDA contracts. The DOI later failed to fulfill its contract with the Ramah Chapter because Congress did not appropriate sufficient funds and capped appropriations at a level well below the CSCs. The DOI argued that the ISDA's provision that payments be "subject to appropriations" relieved the government of liability for CSC. Relying on the Supreme Court's decision in Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma v. Leavitt, 543 U.S. 631 (2005), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that the government was liable because annual CSC appropriations were sufficient to cover any individual contract (See Ramah Navajo Chapter v. Salazar, 644 F.3d 1054 [10th Cir. 2011]).

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