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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, August 19, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesBUSINESS GROUPS FILE TO STOP DISCHARGE CASES

BUSINESS GROUPS FILE TO STOP DISCHARGE CASES

Three local business groups are seeking a restraining order against the Labor Department to prevent it from hearing wrongful discharge cases again.
The St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Croix Hotel Association have filed the motion in District Court to stop Labor officials from resuming the hearings on grounds that the federal rights of its members are being violated.
The basis for the action was an opinion handed down by District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore in February. Moore said in his memorandum that an amendment made in February 1996 to the Wrongful Discharge Act, which in effect forced all private employees and employers to join a union in order to modify the nine statutory grounds for dismissal, violates national labor policy by interfering with the freedom of private employers and employees to enter into work relationships without engaging in the collective bargaining process.
In a second and separate analysis, Moore said the Wrongful Discharge Act "violates national labor policy by interfering with the free play of economic forces in the private labor market which Congress has intentionally left unregulated."
At a public hearing March 15, acting Labor Commissioner Eleuteria Roberts said no new wrongful discharge hearings were being scheduled because of the uncertain status of the law. But just one week later, on March 22, Roberts issued a release saying hearings were to be resumed.
"I have instructed my staff to continue to function in the normal manner until we receive a final decision on this matter," she said then.
John deJongh, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, said the action to stop the wrongful discharge hearings was taken because the chamber thought it was time to seek clarification on Moore's opinion.
"This is not an action against the administration," deJongh said. "We want to put a stop to the hearing of these cases for the next month or so until we have some understanding of what rules we are operating under."
DeJongh said along with this action the chamber is encouraging business organizations to approach the Senate to enact legislation that is fair to both employees and employers.
"Our action is not just about postponing the hearings. We advocate finding workable long-term solutions." deJongh said."We need to clear up the relationship between labor and management once and for all."
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said "Our membership wants clarification on this matter."
He pointed to Roberts' statement at the March 15 hearing, where Doumeng also testified, that Labor was awaiting an opinion from the Attorney General's office before resuming the wrongful discharge hearings.
"To my knowledge," Doumeng said, "the AG has not filed an opinion. You don't just ignore a judge's ruling."
Doumeng said the business groups' membership felt it was time to hammer out a viable relationship between employers and employees.
"We need to figure out what the relationship is, in a sane way," he said.

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Three local business groups are seeking a restraining order against the Labor Department to prevent it from hearing wrongful discharge cases again.
The St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association and the St. Croix Hotel Association have filed the motion in District Court to stop Labor officials from resuming the hearings on grounds that the federal rights of its members are being violated.
The basis for the action was an opinion handed down by District Court Judge Thomas K. Moore in February. Moore said in his memorandum that an amendment made in February 1996 to the Wrongful Discharge Act, which in effect forced all private employees and employers to join a union in order to modify the nine statutory grounds for dismissal, violates national labor policy by interfering with the freedom of private employers and employees to enter into work relationships without engaging in the collective bargaining process.
In a second and separate analysis, Moore said the Wrongful Discharge Act "violates national labor policy by interfering with the free play of economic forces in the private labor market which Congress has intentionally left unregulated."
At a public hearing March 15, acting Labor Commissioner Eleuteria Roberts said no new wrongful discharge hearings were being scheduled because of the uncertain status of the law. But just one week later, on March 22, Roberts issued a release saying hearings were to be resumed.
"I have instructed my staff to continue to function in the normal manner until we receive a final decision on this matter," she said then.
John deJongh, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, said the action to stop the wrongful discharge hearings was taken because the chamber thought it was time to seek clarification on Moore's opinion.
"This is not an action against the administration," deJongh said. "We want to put a stop to the hearing of these cases for the next month or so until we have some understanding of what rules we are operating under."
DeJongh said along with this action the chamber is encouraging business organizations to approach the Senate to enact legislation that is fair to both employees and employers.
"Our action is not just about postponing the hearings. We advocate finding workable long-term solutions." deJongh said."We need to clear up the relationship between labor and management once and for all."
Richard Doumeng, president of the St. Thomas-St. John Hotel and Tourism Association, said "Our membership wants clarification on this matter."
He pointed to Roberts' statement at the March 15 hearing, where Doumeng also testified, that Labor was awaiting an opinion from the Attorney General's office before resuming the wrongful discharge hearings.
"To my knowledge," Doumeng said, "the AG has not filed an opinion. You don't just ignore a judge's ruling."
Doumeng said the business groups' membership felt it was time to hammer out a viable relationship between employers and employees.
"We need to figure out what the relationship is, in a sane way," he said.