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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, February 27, 2024


The Labor Department announced Friday it will begin scheduling mediation for wrongful discharge cases.
Eleuteria Roberts, acting commissioner of Labor said Friday, "The decision is a result of a preliminary injunction hearing held on Friday, May 7."
The hearing was the result of a joint effort of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Croix Hotel Association who filed for a restraining order in April to stop the Department of Labor from resuming wrongful discharge hearings. The order said the federal rights of the members of the organizations were being violated.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore issued the restraining order.
In the release Roberts said that Moore ordered Labor to resume scheduling wrongful discharge cases for mediation during the May 7 hearing.
But mediation has always been an option, according to Charles E. Engeman, the attorney who represents group who filed for the restraining order.
Engeman said that mediation is routinely recommended after a preliminary hearing before moving to a formal hearing.
However, Engeman said scheduling mediation is not the same as a hearing. "Mediation is an informal, non binding process. Engeman added, "What Moore said last Friday was that Labor was free to intake new cases."
"There is nothing in Moore's order that prevents mediation," Engeman said.
Moore has extended the restraining order to May 21. "We anticipate he will enter a preliminary injunction." Engeman said.
It was an opinion delivered by Moore that brought hearings under the Wrongful Discharge Act to a halt in February.
In a 27-page memorandum Moore dismissed portions of a suit brought under the Wrongful Discharge Act based on his opinion that the Wrongful Discharge Act is preempted by federal labor law, and therefore invalid.
Labor's attempt to reschedule wrongful discharge hearings in March prompted the business groups to ask for the restraining order.

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