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Legal Memorandum: Arbitrability of an Employment Contract in VI

Issue: When are employment contracts arbitrable under the laws of the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Business Organizations & Contracts, Employee Law
Keywords: Employment contract; Arbitration
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 11/01/2004

In response to the District Court’s opinion in Wyatt, V.I., Inc. v. Gov’t of the V.I., Civ. No. 2002-29, 2002 WL 31599790 (June 5, 2002), rev’d, 2004 WL 2283208 (3d Cir. Oct. 12, 2004), the V.I. Legislature added § 34 to the Omnibus Authorization Act of 2003, which added § 74a to Title 24 of the V.I. Code.  Section 74a now provides:

§ 74a   Arbitration

(a)        Notwithstanding an employment contract that provides for the use of arbitration to resolve a controversy arising out of or relating to the employment relationship, arbitration may be used to settle such a dispute only if:

(1)        the employer or employee submits a written request after the dispute arises to the other party to use arbitration; and

 

(2)        the other party consents in writing not later than sixty (60) days after the receipt of the request to use arbitration.

(b)        An employer subject to this chapter may not require an employee to arbitrate a dispute as a condition of employment.

24 V.I.C. § 74a (2004).

The plain reading of the statute requires a party wishing to initiate arbitration to submit a written request the other party after the dispute arises.  If the other party refuses to consent, the claims are not subject to arbitration. 

The only statutory exception to this procedure is stated in the statute itself:  when an employment contract that provides for the use of arbitration to resolve a controversy arising out […]

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