Council approves Tribal Employee Bill of Rights

by Feb 2, 2018Front Page, NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments





In an effort to better protect the rights of employees of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Tribal Council passed several pieces of legislation dealing with the personnel policy of the Tribe including passage of an Employee Bill of Rights.  Ordinances No. 61 and No. 63, both submitted by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, were passed during the regular session of Tribal Council on Thursday, Feb. 1.

Following passage of the legislation, Chief Sneed provided the following statement to the One Feather, “I feel the employees of our Tribe are one of our most valuable resources and those employees deserve all the protections we can provide. This bill of rights will insure our employees can have confidence that they will be treated fairly and in accordance with the personal policy. This will also ensure employees understand their responsibilities and will ensure tribal services will be undertaken by employees who are committed to the Tribe.”

He went on to say, “I am grateful to Tribal Council for passing these ordinance changes. This will ensure that our employees have the protection that they deserve when there is an administration change. Our employees should not fear for the safety of their job every four years. Likewise, this will ensure a continuity of services to our community members. ”

Ord. No. 61 took the Employee Handbook, containing policies and procedures for all EBCI tribal employees, out of the Cherokee Code.  The legislation states, “Protections for employees will be enhanced by adoption of an ordinance stating an employee bill of rights, which has been submitted as a companion ordinance to this ordinance; and publishing the Employee Handbook separately from the Cherokee Code will reduce confusion caused by the handbook’s presence in the Code and will not change the fact that the handbook has been adopted as the governing policy of the Tribe.”

It further states that the Handbook “shall henceforth be published and made available by other means, including electronically on the Tribe’s website, and shall not be published in the Cherokee Code”.

Ord. No. 63 establishes the Employee Bill of Rights in the Cherokee Code.  That legislation states in part, “The purpose of codifying an Employee Bills of Rights is to demonstrate the Tribe’s commitment to providing a safe and positive work environment for its employees; and employment with the tribal government is a public service and the public deserves stability and predictability in the administration of the public services performed by tribal employees and supported with tribal funding…”

The Employee Bill of Rights, as established in Cherokee Code Sec. 96-10, is as follows:

  1. All employees should be treated with honesty and respect.
  2. All employees have the right to regular and constructive communication from their supervisor and the EBCI.
  3. All employees have the right to a fair wage.
  4. All full-time employees have the right to health care benefits.
  5. All employees should have a workplace free of harassment.
  6. Employees should have a workplace consisting of good working conditions where safety is paramount and the employees have the resources to perform their job duties.
  7. Employees have the right to receive the training expected for their position.
  8. Employees have the right to learn through ongoing training and education so that employees can perform at a higher level.
  9. Employees have the right to know the EBCI’s expectations of the employee and the employee’s progress toward those expectations.
  10. Employees have a right to a grievance process if there are problems and issues on the job.
  11. Employees have the right to recognition and praise for a job well done.
  12. Employees have the right to have a balance between work and life outside work.

Section 96-11 of the ordinance speaks to employee rights during an administration change within the Tribe.  It states, “All employees of the tribal government, and specifically excluding political appointees as defined in Cherokee Code Sec. 96-4, shall be protected by the corrective action or disciplinary procedures set out in the Tribe’s personnel policy and procedures manual and may not be terminated, transferred, or demoted when a new administration takes office except in as provided for in the policies and procedures.”

That Section was amended prior to passage to also state that changes to the policies and procedures would have to be reviewed and signed off on by both the EBCI Office of the Attorney General and the EBCI Secretary of Human Resources.