8078 – Tribal Trouble


When you’re off the reservation, smoke signals won’t help you.  This case involved the question of whether federal overtime pay requirements apply to employees of stores located on tribal lands.  This case involved Baby Zack’s Smoke Shop located on the Puyallup Tribe Reservation.  Baby Zack’s sells to members and nonmembers of the tribe and, given the increase in tobacco taxes, which Baby Zack’s customers don’t seem to pay, it’s no surprise that Baby Zack’s and its employees were working overtime.  After complaints were received by the Department of Labor, a federal court ordered Baby Zack’s to fork over more than $31,000 in unpaid overtime.  Baby Zack’s appealed arguing that tribes possess inherent power to control events occurring on tribal lands.  But the Court of Appeals ruled that Congress can limit, modify or eliminate local tribal self government.  And since the Puyallup Tribe has not enacted its own wage and hour laws, federal law applies, proving that over time overtime applies to Indian reservations without reservation.


Solis v. Matheson, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 07-35633, April 20, 2009, Ezra, J., U.S. Law Week, Vol. 77, No. 42, Pg. 1669, 5-5-09