What constitutes racial discrimination in the workplace?

I currently work in a tribal casino where my supervisor is a Native American. I am currently the only manager in my whole department who is Asian. A week ago I received a new office, where I noticed where the holder that should hold my title outside the door had a piece of paper with the words

Asked on April 29, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an attorney who understands tribal law before acting.
If you were NOT on a reservation, the answer to your question would be easy: the behavior you describe, which is obviously tolerated by management, since it is very open (e.g. in emails sent to several or many managers), would constitute illegal racially based employment discrimination or harassment. If you were not at a tribal enterprise, you would simply go to the federal EEOC or your state's equal/civil rights agency to file a complaint.
But tribes are their own jurisdictions and sovereigns: they are "nations within a nation." While they are subject to many laws of the United States and some laws of their states, they are outside the reach of many laws and of state, as well as of federal courts for many matters, and instead have their laws and own courts. Furthermore, tribal gaming is highly regulated, and those regulations can impact on the liability of the tribal casinos in some contexts.
It may be that a discrimination complaint is not pre-empted by tribal law or tribal sovereignty; but it also may be. You need to speak with someone who understands the interface of tribal and non-tribal law to understand your rights and options.

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