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Linda J
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October 10, 2012 3:20 pm  

Culture here is very different. If someone's great-aunt dies, expect that person to take AT LEAST the whole day of the funeral off. If something happens in the family that requires time off, it's taken. And even if it's a nice day and everyone is going to the beach, you might not have your employee that day. Or if it rains too much, or if school is out or... well, you get the idea. And in small business (and occasionally government offices) if person related to the business dies dies, the office/store closes for the day of the funeral, at least. It's not the way business is conducted in the states, but it is the usual way in much of the Caribbean. You should decide right from the get-go if you can adjust to this reality. It's not going to change.


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Alana33
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October 10, 2012 9:42 pm  

Let's not mention a steady turnover of those that relocated from the states to live in Paradise who leave when reality sets in, for whatever reason.


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stiphy
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October 10, 2012 10:06 pm  

My advice: theonly way you will find out if you are one of the people who can hack it here is to try to hack it here. See what its like, bring enough to be comfortable so you don't miss the things that are important to you but not too much that you can't head home if you don't like it. Over time bring more down if you are comfortable doing so. Have a backup plan to exit if you find it way different than you thought as many do. You guy will already be ahead of many by coming here with a job lined up. Just set yourself up so that if you have to leave the worst that happened to you was that you got to experience life in the Caribbean and realized it wasn't for you.

Sean


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AandA2VI
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October 10, 2012 11:30 pm  

like! Great advice and I feel like we're doing exactly what you said. 🙂


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OldTart
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October 10, 2012 11:50 pm  

Let's not mention a steady turnover of those that relocated from the states to live in Paradise who leave when reality sets in, for whatever reason.

How many hundreds can I count? I was truly blessed when I came here so many years ago that my first (very short-lived) job was with locals and several of whom I still keep in touch with and see to this day - while my second job with a large corporation was comprised of 99% local Virgin Islanders. That job which I loved lasted for 10 years and by that time I was pretty well equipped to manage a small supermarket for a year staffed by locals. The fact that the owner was a total ass didn't deter me from batting for the good employees while ditching the bad and, over the ensuing years, many of them have told me that, "you were the best boss there that we ever had". I have to say too that I didn't have the absentee issues which other posters have talked about. I didn't see it in the corporate environment; I didn't have the problem when a manager; and didn't have the problem when I had my own business for 16 years. But I've seen this sort of slackness tolerated in several businesses. Employees just don't turn up for their shifts (particularly during Carnival) and their lame excuses are "accepted" which totally boggles my mind. It's complicated so I'll stop right there where that's concerned.

I'd moved around much both as a child and as an adult so coming into a new environment wasn't as difficult for me as it understandably is for many. I had no grand expectations, fully understood the "when in Rome" caveat without even thinking about it. I shut my mouth and was just a human sponge, sopping up everything new and ever learning. Looking back on those years I was truly blessed in so many ways by the total local immersion I experienced.

You can't "force" yourself on people and locals are very hesitant towards newcomers and for good reason, mainly related to the high attrition rate of the newbies and very much less to do with general racial prejudices. The very worst thing a newbie can do (and I've seen this happen over and over again) is to barge in and DEMAND that those under your management do as you say. You set the guidelines via an employee manual but you ASK rather than demand. And never, ever, bring up the, "this is how we do it back home" card either directly or by inference. You ain't in Kansas or anywhere "back home" here. You're in that proverbial Rome and learn how to deal with its population.

Most of the biggest kvetches on this forum wouldn't even be brought up if that simple lesson were learned ...


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sallyf
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October 11, 2012 7:28 pm  

I think that is why 'corporate chain' businesses have such a hard time on island - their managers are between a rock and a hard place. The entity as a whole relies on fixed practices, goals, promotions etc - economies of scale and all that good stuff - whereas the poor manager has to deal with the reality of keeping a business' doors open in a "foreign' culture and never the twain shall meet.
Flexibility is the key - when in Rome etc...unfortunately the MBA driven business models of yesterday (most corporate chains) have no room for flexibility or autonomy at the local level - shame!


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Iris Tramm
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October 11, 2012 7:43 pm  

Well I think its telling that according to the article it took members of corporate to come down and fire the people. If there were 13 people that were let go why couldnt they be fired at the store level? Things that make you go "hmmmmmm"

One word: lawyers.

Okay, actually five words: lawyers and the wrongful discharge act. Firing someone in the VI is NOT like firing someone in the States. They probably wanted to defer to corporate management and corporate counsel for such an act, and not leave it to the local managers to screw up.

Best to you.

IT


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trainwreck82
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October 12, 2012 8:12 pm  

Well I think its telling that according to the article it took members of corporate to come down and fire the people. If there were 13 people that were let go why couldnt they be fired at the store level? Things that make you go "hmmmmmm"

One word: lawyers.

Okay, actually five words: lawyers and the wrongful discharge act. Firing someone in the VI is NOT like firing someone in the States. They probably wanted to defer to corporate management and corporate counsel for such an act, and not leave it to the local managers to screw up.

Best to you.

IT

The managers can't fire anyone without all documentation being reviewed by HR in PR, this way the managers can't screw it up. I'm not totally sure what happened, but I do know that management can't fire management, this is probably why corporate came down. As far as the Dept of Labor goes, yeah, about 50% of the time you term an associate you're going to get a summons for a hearing with them. If you dotted your i's and crossed your t's with those write-ups you will win, we never lost against them. That said I'm pretty sure their sole function is to figure out how to sue you for firing a local, I was once actually told "well did you give him a warning?" after I termed an associate I caught stealing a computer, unbelievable.

I could probably talk for 24 straight hours about the ridiculous job of running that store.


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OldTart
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October 12, 2012 10:21 pm  

Well I think its telling that according to the article it took members of corporate to come down and fire the people.

One word: lawyers.

Okay, actually five words: lawyers and the wrongful discharge act. Firing someone in the VI is NOT like firing someone in the States. They probably wanted to defer to corporate management and corporate counsel for such an act, and not leave it to the local managers to screw up.

Best to you.

IT

Less true than it was in days past when the employee laws here were very much swayed in favor of the employers and not the employees. Their revision led to more of an equable balance but they've thus far not kept up with stateside laws where most states now employ "at will" which has resulted in a complete turnaround in employee protection and to the employee's detriment.


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blu4u
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October 12, 2012 10:52 pm  

Benefits of "at will" to employee...
Quit without notice or penelty
Work for competor without penelety.
Still proteced by harassment, discrimination and genral employment laws.
Contracts can sometimes be bad for the employee, especially if the employee wants to break the contract or work for a competior or is "contractually" denied opportunties for advancement or pay increase
Contracts mostly benefit employer (not employee).
Smart workers understand the pro v cons of each.
Smart workers research potential employeers and the employeers track record.
Smart workers biuld exit stragies into contracts.
Smart worker chose at will over unfavorable penalizing contracts.
Based upon their track record---Good luck to anyone with a contract at OMAX.


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OldTart
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October 12, 2012 11:18 pm  

Cheese 'n' bread, blu. My whole point was that the VI, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't yet embraced the "at will" employee status which many states have implemented in recent years. I'm not sure that you understand what "at will" means and can't make head nor tail of your post even taking into account that "at will" employee status hasn't yet reached our shores. Employee contracts are a whole different ball game but you seem to be mixing and mingling indiscriminately.


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Iris Tramm
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October 12, 2012 11:37 pm  

Well I think its telling that according to the article it took members of corporate to come down and fire the people.

One word: lawyers.

Okay, actually five words: lawyers and the wrongful discharge act. Firing someone in the VI is NOT like firing someone in the States. They probably wanted to defer to corporate management and corporate counsel for such an act, and not leave it to the local managers to screw up.

Best to you.

IT

Less true than it was in days past when the employee laws here were very much swayed in favor of the employers and not the employees. Their revision led to more of an equable balance but they've thus far not kept up with stateside laws where most states now employ "at will" which has resulted in a complete turnaround in employee protection and to the employee's detriment.

You've been out of local employment litigation practice for awhile. Sorry.

IT


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blu4u
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October 13, 2012 1:20 am  

Cheese 'n' bread, blu. My whole point was that the VI, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't yet embraced the "at will" employee status which many states have implemented in recent years. I'm not sure that you understand what "at will" means and can't make head nor tail of your post even taking into account that "at will" employee status hasn't yet reached our shores. Employee contracts are a whole different ball game but you seem to be mixing and mingling indiscriminately.

Again you are correct. I am not an labor/employmnet attyn. Can you help me understand....Doesn't the "Wrongful Discharge Act (Title 24 V.I.C. 76)" specifically cover circumstances in which at-will employees can be terminated and which types of employees are excluded?


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OldTart
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October 13, 2012 10:17 am  

Doesn't the "Wrongful Discharge Act (Title 24 V.I.C. 76)" specifically cover circumstances in which at-will employees can be terminated and which types of employees are excluded?

Yes, it does. And doesn't this in itself set it apart from the majority of States where employers can fire employees for "no cause". There seems no provision in VI law to fire an employee for "no cause" but since poster Iris Tramm seems to be more up to date with VI employment law than either you or I, maybe she'll be happy to educate on this. I'm always happy to learn.


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Iris Tramm
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October 13, 2012 6:41 pm  

Doesn't the "Wrongful Discharge Act (Title 24 V.I.C. 76)" specifically cover circumstances in which at-will employees can be terminated and which types of employees are excluded?

There are no "at will" employees except for professionals. That doesn't apply to the majority of the OMAX clerks and cashiers. In addition, you've got to document and PROVE that the alleged "fireable behavior" of the EE fell into one of the few permissible circumstances when its legal to fire someone here -- which is subject to all sorts of interpretation. Plus, you'll have the unique joy of fighting with Lee Rohn over what the settlement value of the lawsuit which will inevitably be filed is, as well has have to put out of pocket to defend it. Then there's the inevitable "you fired me because I'm black/west indian/old/fat whatever" discrimination lawsuit that'll get thrown on top of it.

Hey, it keeps me employed (I defend businesses), but the store owners -- rightfully so -- HATE IT. Doesn't matter if the suit has merit, they get filed here just to get a settlement and make them go away. The VI civil legal system is extortion plain and simple. Not that there isn't corruption everywhere, but here is is particularly egregious.

Like I said, you can't fire people here like you can in the states, and in the courtroom, just saying "she violated subsection whatever" WILL NOT CUT IT.

Consider yourself warned.

IT


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speee1dy
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October 14, 2012 12:14 am  

i agree with you iris, so spot on its not funny


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sunshinefun
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October 15, 2012 12:39 pm  

This is exactly why my business no longer hires VI employees and now outsources all our production off-shore.

Since we've done this, our profits have soared and we no longer have lazy people sitting around waiting to sue us.


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Ronnie
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October 15, 2012 1:27 pm  

This is exactly why my business no longer hires VI employees and now outsources all our production off-shore.

Since we've done this, our profits have soared and we no longer have lazy people sitting around waiting to sue us.

Maybe you should outsource yourself as well. Hope you are not getting tax benefits while here. By the way what business do you have?

Maybe I have been out of the game lately or being local gives me a different perspective but you need to run your business as anyone anywhere should and not let the local nuances interfere. Total nonsense. If they don't fit, let them go. Apparently you have to document why just to CYA, Oh well.


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speee1dy
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October 15, 2012 2:04 pm  

ronnie, its not as easy as that


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Ronnie
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October 15, 2012 2:15 pm  

You mean if you do things you are supposed to it doesn't work on your behalf?


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speee1dy
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October 15, 2012 2:53 pm  

Total nonsense. If they don't fit, let them go. this statement you made is not as easy as that. they go directley to dept of labor no matter the reason for the firing. and sometimes even if they are wrong they win.


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Ronnie
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October 15, 2012 3:00 pm  

People I know have always won their cases against employees. Make sure your records are kept. Sorry if it doesn't work for you.


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OldTart
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October 15, 2012 3:18 pm  

People I know have always won their cases against employees. Make sure your records are kept. Sorry if it doesn't work for you.

I agree. Personally I've only twice been in a position when an employee filed a complaint with the Labor Board but the documentation was all in order and the employees didn't prevail in their complaints which were dismissed even before they got to the point of a formal hearing.


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Iris Tramm
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October 15, 2012 5:00 pm  

People I know have always won their cases against employees. Make sure your records are kept. Sorry if it doesn't work for you.

I agree. Personally I've only twice been in a position when an employee filed a complaint with the Labor Board but the documentation was all in order and the employees didn't prevail in their complaints which were dismissed even before they got to the point of a formal hearing.

Both of you are very lucky -- the exception rather than the rule -- and it is probably not a coincidence that you're experience did not occur on STX.


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speee1dy
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October 15, 2012 5:48 pm  

you loose either way when you factor in lawyers cost-especially if you are a larger employer


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