Employment Law Comes From Many Places
by Michael Fox
One of the more unusual sources for an employment law case has to be the Fort Laramie Treaty of April 29, 1868 which requires the U.S. Government to reimburse Sioux tribe members who are injured by "bad men among the whites, or among other people subject to the authority of the United States." See the report on the settlement of such a case from the Native American Times, $650,000 settlement in lawsuit based on 1868 treaty.
The facts that led to the settlement involved Lavetta Elk a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe who was sexually assaulted by a military recruiter when he was driving her to a military induction center. The actual story is a little more involved and is set out in considerable more detail in the opinion in Lavetta Elk v. United States, No. 05-186L (U.S. Ct. of Federal Claims 4/28/09) [pdf] .
The decision was appealed, but last week's settlement moots the appeal. It marks the first time that emotional stress had been awarded under the Treaty.
The opening quotation in the opinion is from Chief Swift Bear, Council with the Brule Sioux at Fort Laramie, who the day before the treaty was signed said:
“The best thing a man can do is when he makes a promise to stick to it.”
Not bad advice for employers to remember on a daily basis.