Jamie Leigh Jones remarks on mandatory arbitration
29 April 2009
Jamie Leigh Jones, of Houston, Texas, was raped by co-workers while working for a Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq. Her company said she couldnt go to court because the employment agreement she signed required her claims to be settled through arbitration.
U.S. Senator Russ Feingold reintroduced legislation to protect the right of Americans to have their day in court. The bill would make pre-dispute agreements requiring arbitration for any employment, consumer, franchise, or civil rights disputes unenforceable.
From Mother Jones in the USA:
Halliburton Loses to Jamie Leigh Jones
— By Stephanie Mencimer | Wed September 16, 2009 6:34 AM PST
Remember Jamie Leigh Jones, the Halliburton/KBR contractor who alleged she was gang raped by her co-workers in Iraq? When Halliburton failed to take any action against the men and the Justice Department failed to prosecute, Jones tried to sue the company for failing to protect her. But thanks to an employment contract created during the tenure of former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney, Jones was forced into mandatory binding arbitration, a private forum where Halliburton would hire the arbitrator, all the proceedings would be secret, and she’d have no right to appeal if she lost.
Jones fought the agreement in the hopes of bringing her case before a jury. She argued that the alleged gang rape was not related to her employment and thus, wasn’t covered by the arbitration agreement. Finally, three years later, a federal court has sensibly agreed with her. Yesterday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 ruling, found her alleged injuries were not, in fact, in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by the contract. (One of the judges who ruled in her favor, Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale, is a West Point grad, Vietnam vet, and one of the court’s most conservative members, a sign, perhaps, of just how bad the facts are in this case.)
It’s a big victory, but a bitter one that shows just how insidious mandatory arbitration is. It’s taken Jones three years of litigation just to get to the point where she can finally sue the people who allegedly wronged her. It will be many more years before she finally wins any real justice.
It is stunning that 30 Republican members of the United States Senate would vote to protect a corporation, in this case Halliburton/KBR, over a woman who was gang raped: here.
Plight of Contractor Raped in Iraq Spurs Push in Congress: here.
Stewart: GOP protects Halliburton’s ‘it’s okay if you get raped’ clause: here.
Cindy Beringer reports on the struggles of Fort Hood soldiers who have stood up to resist the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: here.
Vice President Biden visited Iraq to uphold the US occupation and push for a law to open up the country’s oil wealth to exploitation: here.
Solidarity with Iraqi trade unions: here.
KBR could face penalties, Pentagon auditors warn: here.