Eight fired Sauk-Suiattle workers sue tribe

DARRINGTON — Eight former employees of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe have filed suit in its Tribal Court, alleging that the Tribal Council violated its constitution and employee handbook and intentionally discriminated against the former employees.

In June, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Council, by a majority vote, decided to fire 11 tribal employees.

The tribe’s former human resources director Judy Pendergrass, one of those fired, said in a phone interview last week that all of the employees terminated by the tribe were non-Indian.

The eight former employees filing suit also include a police officer, an environmental official and a mental health counselor.

An attorney for the former employees, Susan B. Mindenbergs of Seattle, said it is unclear if and when the lawsuit will be heard before the Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Court.

The tribe’s lawyer has already filed a motion to dismiss the case, Mindenbergs said, denying the allegations of the suit and claiming that the tribe has sovereign immunity from prosecution and that its constitution protects only its members.

The tribe is represented by Thomas B. Nedderman of Floyd, Pfleuger &Ringer in Seattle.

Nedderman did not return calls for comment on Wednesday.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

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