Published October 5, 2009
No Arbitration for Rape in DoD contracts
GREAT NEWS!!! Senate Amendment 2588 that will prohibit defense contractors from requiring arbitration in cases of rape or sexual harassment PASSED the Senate by a vote of 68-30.
Click here to see how your Senators voted.
Jamie Leigh Jones, a former employee of Halliburton/KBR was viciously assaulted, gang raped, and sexually harassed by her co-workers while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq.
After reporting the incident to her employers, Halliburton confined her in a shipping container and prevented her from contacting her family. She was rescued by 2 agents from the US Embassy and brought home.
When she tried to sue Halliburton/KBR for the harm she endured she learned that her employment contract required her to go to binding arbitration instead of court.
In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator would decide Jones' case.
Frequently, the arbitration hearing officers are hired by the corporation. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.
Mandatory binding arbitration allows corporations to systematically deny workers their civil rights and then escape public accountability for these actions because forced arbitration is a secret process operated by private companies who are accountable to no one.
Because the proceedings are secret, a pattern of problems will never become known.
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill (Amendment number 2588) that will be brought for a vote today, Tuesday Oct 6. (see sidebar for additional information)
This amendment will prevent defense contractors from requiring mandatory employment arbitration of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault claims.
The government shouldn’t let these women be victimized twice—first by being raped or assaulted in their workplace, and then by being denied the right to have their day in court.