Jones v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation provides preference in employment opportunities first to members of the tribe, and then to the spouses of members of the tribe. In March 2011, Charlene Jones, applied to work for the defendant, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, as director of utility and waste water management. Although the defendant concluded that the plaintiff possessed the minimal qualifications, it offered the job to another candidate, who also is a member of the tribe and also had the minimum qualifications. The plaintiff filed a complaint to the Mashantucket Employment Rights Office, alleging that the interview committee failed to follow tribal policy and law. The Mashantucket Employment Rights Office investigated whether there was non-compliance with Title 33 and denied the plaintiff's claim. The plaintiff appealed the decision of the Mashantucket Employment Rights Office, alleging that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation failed to hire the "most qualified candidate," pursuant to established policy. Title 33, the so-called "preference law," provides that the tribe must "give preference in Employment Opportunities first to Tribal Members, then to Spouses of Tribal Members, and then to other Native Americans; provided that the Tribal Member, Spouse of Tribal Member or Native American, as the case may be, meets the Minimum Necessary Qualifications." The court found that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation chose one of two candidates who had the "minimum necessary qualifications" from the highest category of preferences. The plaintiff's allegation that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation failed to follow established policy and to hire the "most qualified candidate" failed to state a cognizable claim. The tribe hired a candidate with minimum necessary qualifications from the highest category of preferences. Although the plaintiff sought the hiring committee's records of scoring candidates, Title 33 did not require its disclosure. The Mashantucket Employment Rights Office performed its job when it found that hiring procedures complied with the preference law, and the court dismissed the plaintiff's appeal.