On June 27, the Tribal Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and four political appointees filed a lawsuit in the Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Court challenging the constitutionality of a handful of provisions contained in a personnel policy enacted earlier this year by the Mississippi Choctaw Tribal Council.
The Tribal Constitution requires the Tribal Council to “establish procedures for the conduct of all tribal government and business operations” and to “establish a basic departmental structure for the tribal government executive branch.”
The Tribal Council enacted the amended personnel policy to fulfill this responsibility and remains confident that the personnel policy is constitutional in its entirety, and that it strikes a reasonable balance between the roles of the executive and legislative branches.
The personnel policy was enacted after months of diligent effort by the Tribal Council – with participation from the Tribal Chief and the executive branch – to provide additional benefits and protections for the many individuals whose employment relationship with the Tribe is governed by the personnel policy.
By design, the personnel policy now affords employees the option to receive compensation for certain unused vacation time, bolsters employee privacy protections, and affords employees a mechanism to acquire additional paid leave for certain serious illnesses.
While the executive and legislative branches reached consensus on most aspects of the personnel policy during the months preceding its enactment, there were and continue to be divergent viewpoints regarding the constitutionality of others.
The Tribe has established an independent judiciary to review the issues raised in the suit.