EEOC v. Peabody Western Coal Co.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tribal Law
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2014
  • Case #: 12-17780
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge W. Fletcher for the Court; Circuit Judges Graber and Paez
  • Full Text Opinion

Tribal hiring preferences are not discriminatory because tribal affiliation is a political classification and not a national origin classification.

Peabody Western Coal Co. (“Peabody”) operates coal mines on land leased from the Navajo Nation. The leases require Peabody to give employment preference to Navajo Indians. Hiring preference provisions have been routinely used in these and similar leases since the 1940's. In 1998, members of the Hopi and Otoe tribes filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) alleging Peabody had used discriminatory hiring practices in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The members allege they applied for Peabody positions for which they were qualified but were not hired because they are not Navajo. The district court dismissed the suit, ruling for Peabody. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that tribal hiring preferences are not discriminatory because tribal affiliation is a political classification and not a national origin classification. Tribal hiring preferences are mandated to foster tribal self-governance. AFFIRMED.

Advanced Search