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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, January 31, 2023


Only 3 percent of employees were reinstated under the Wrongful Discharge Act between 1995 and 1998, according to statistics offered by the Labor Department at a public hearing Monday night.
Labor reported that 1,128 wrongful discharge cases were filed during that period. Their dispositions, according to Tuesday's V.I. Independent were as follows:
— 55 percent were dismissed.
— 26 percent were settled.
— 11 percent were withdrawn.
— 5 percent defaulted because the employee didn't show up.
— 3 percent resulted in employee being reinstated.
The Labor and Veterans' Affairs hearing was called to discuss issues related to the Wrongful Discharge Act that was partly scuttled in an opinion by District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore.
Testimony was, predictably, divided on how the act's current status should be handled and what it means.
Luis "Tito" Morales, president of the Central Labor Council, said he believes the law remains valid except for the 1996 amendment, according to WVWI and the Daily News.
The amendment, which allows for contract negotiation only within the collective bargaining process, was the basis for Moore's opinion that the law was in conflict with national labor relations laws and therefore invalid.
Attorney David Bornn, representing the St Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, recommended that new legislation be drafted that would differentiate between different sized businesses and varying employee status.
Bornn said under the Wrongful Discharge Act as it stood, no distinction was made between an employee who had one hour on the job or one who had 25 years. He said it also treated a business with one employee the same as a business with 300 employees, according to reports in the Independent and Daily News.
One discharged worker who testified said employers should have to answer for their actions in firing employees.
Acting Labor Commissioner Eleuteria Roberts said the department would like to see a balance created between employers and employees. In the meantime, she said, no new wrongful discharge hearings are being scheduled because of the uncertain status of the law.

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