Mashantucket tribal member loses appeal in promotion suit

An appellate judge for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court has upheld the dismissal of a tribal member's claim that the tribe breached a contract with her when it failed to promote her to executive vice president of marketing at Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2006.

At the time, the low end of the salary range for the position was $326,185 a year.

In a decision filed last week, appellate Judge Gregory Bigler affirmed the April 2008 ruling of tribal Judge Thomas Londregan, who found that although the tribe waives its sovereign immunity to lawsuits involving a "written contract or agreement," a tribal council resolution admitting Kelly Reising to the tribe's since-scrapped Succession Training Program did not constitute such a contract. As a result, Londregan found the court had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Bigler wrote that "tribal resolutions are political actions of a sovereign," and not a contract.

Reising, in the lawsuit she filed in 2007 against the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise, the entity that operates Foxwoods, claimed the resolution, which was passed in April 2005, guaranteed her promotion to executive vice president provided she successfully completed a year's apprenticeship as executive director of casino marketing. At the end of the training year, however, then-council Chairman Michael Thomas ordered that her promotion and attendant pay raise be "held up," Reising alleged.

Reising, 39, said in an interview last year that she was eventually moved into an entry-level telemarketing job at an annual salary of about $62,000. When she sought an explanation from the council, she was only told her reassignment was "a business decision," she said.

"Court can understand the Appellant's frustration with the Nation's failure to carry out its Resolution," Bigler wrote. "However, failing to implement a training schedule, or to carry out any part of the resolution, is not a contractual default."

Reising, who is still a tribal member, lives in Ledyard, where she and her husband, Paul, own a liquor store. Paul Reising said Wednesday they had just received Bigler's decision and would have no comment until they had reviewed it.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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