Managers may be fired for no cause


Hundreds of program managers working for the Navajo Nation’s executive branch may soon find themselves at risk of being fired for no cause.


Dwight Witherspoon

This is thanks to legislation recently passed by the Navajo Nation Council that would exempt program managers from the “just cause” protections that other tribal employees have under the Navajo Nation personnel code. Under the bill, any tribal employee who is viewed as a program manager in the executive branch could be fired at any time without cause the same as any other “at will” appointee, such as political appointees.

According to the bill, program managers are defined as anyone “who has the authority to hire, terminate, discipline or otherwise initiate personnel action” against other employees under them. This would affect as many as 200 employees of the tribe, according to estimates from the personnel department.

The bill, sponsored by Dwight Witherspoon (Black Mesa, Forest Lake, Hard Rock, Piñon and Whippoorwill), was approved by an 8-7 vote and is now on the desk of Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye for approval.

Witherspoon said he sponsored the proposal to make program managers more accountable and to make the tribal government more efficient.

“The purpose is to be able to hold our employees and supervisors more accountable to carry out the work and the many needs of the Navajo Nation,” he said. “We want our tribal supervisors to be successful. That’s our goal.”

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Categories: Politics

About Author

Bill Donovan

Bill Donovan has been writing about the Navajo Nation government since 1971 and for the Navajo Times since 1976. He is currently semi-retired and is living in Torrance, California, and continues to report for the Navajo Times.