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Legal Memorandum: Arbitration Agreements for Employment Disputes

Issue: How is an agreement to arbitrate employment-related disputed enforced under the laws of the Virgin Islands?

Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Employee Law
Keywords: Employment-related disputes; Arbitration agreement
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: 24 V.I.C. § 74a (2004).
Date: 05/01/2006

  In response to the district court’s opinion in Wyatt, V.I., Inc. v. Gov’t of the V.I., Civ. No. 2002-29 (D.V.I. June 5, 2002), rev’d, 385 F.3d 801 (3d Cir. Oct. 12, 2004), the Virgin Islands Legislature added § 34 to the Omnibus Authorization Act of 2003, which added § 74a to Title 24 of the Virgin Islands 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.  Under § 74a, a demand for arbitration pursuant to the terms of an employment contract is subject to the requirements of subparts (1) and (2) […]

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