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Legal Memorandum: Arbitration in Employment Matters in VI

Issue: Must a defendant’s motion to compel arbitration in Virgin Islands court be denied because the defendant failed to timely request arbitration and plaintiff has not consented thereto?

Area of Law: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Employee Law
Keywords: Arbitration; Timely request for arbitration; Employment contarcts or relationship
Jurisdiction: Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: V.I. Code § 74a; 24 V.I.C. § 74a
Date: 06/01/2005

In 2003, the Virgin Islands Legislature added § 74a to Title 24 of the V.I. Code.  Section 74a provides as follows:

§ 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 this statutory provision requires a party wishing to initiate arbitration to submit a written request to the other party after the dispute arises.  If the other party refuses to consent, the claims are not subject to arbitration.

Moreover, § 74a(b) prohibits an employer from requiring arbitration as a condition of employment.  The Legislature, out of concern for the plight of unemployed men and women seeking employment in the Virgin Islands, passed § 74a(b) in order to make certain that overreaching prospective employers would not take advantage of those desperate for work.  To require signing an arbitration […]

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