White Construction Worker Sues Colville Tribe

AP, May 18, 2006

SPOKANE, Wash.—A white construction worker is suing two Colville tribal corporations, contending that racial slurs by American Indian co-workers caused him to quit his job.

Tribal attorneys say that Christopher Wright’s employer, as a tribal entity, is entitled to sovereign immunity and cannot be sued in state court.

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Wright, a pipe layer, took a construction job in Oak Harbor in 2002 replacing a water system at Navy housing on Whidbey Island. His employer was the Colville Tribal Services Corp.

The company is one of 14 business enterprises run by the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corp.

Wright contended that one co-worker “constantly spat on me when I was working in the ditch below him and shouted things at me like ‘You’re my white bitch.’”

He said two co-workers, without permission, took his Honda for a joyride. Another allegedly called him a “Nazi German bastard” and threatened to kill whites and burn their homes.

He said he repeatedly complained to his boss. Court records show that Colville Tribal Enterprise Corp. officials called one meeting and told workers that racial epithets and harassment wouldn’t be tolerated. Wright said the harassment continued.

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