In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by her co-workers while she was working for Halliburton/KBR in Baghdad. She was detained in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed, and "warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job." (Jones was not an isolated case.) Jones was prevented from bringing charges in court against KBR because her employment contract stipulated that sexual assault allegations would only be heard in private arbitration.
Offering Ms. Jones legal relief was Senator Al Franken of Minnesota who offered an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations bill that would withhold defense contracts from companies like KBR "if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court."
Seems simple enough. And yet, to GOP Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions of Alabama allowing victims of sexual assault a day in court is tantamount to a "political attack" at Halliburton. That 29 others, all men, chose to join him in opposing the Franken amendment is simply mind-boggling.
Here are those who vote to protect a corporation over a victim of rape:
In the debate, Senator Sessions maintained that Franken's amendment overreached into the private sector and suggested that it violated the due process clause of the Constitution.
To which, Senator Franken fired back quoting the Constitution. "Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gives Congress the right to spend money for the welfare of our citizens. Because of this, Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, 'Congress may attach conditions on the receipt of federal funds and has repeatedly employed that power to further broad policy objectives,'" Franken said. "That is why Congress could pass laws cutting off highway funds to states that didn't raise their drinking age to 21. That's why this whole bill [the Defense Appropriations bill] is full of limitations on contractors -- what bonuses they can give and what kind of health care they can offer. The spending power is a broad power and my amendment is well within it."
Absolutely unbelievable. I don't know what's worse - the fact that 30 GOP senators voted to favor a corporation effectively obstructing justice, or the fact that the company was able to get away with it.
Here is the proposed amendment, in it's entirety:
On page 245, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following:
Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.
(b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.
Again...I don't understand how anyone could honestly vote against this? It basically states that if you're a company, and you force your employees to use private arbitration to resolve cases of sexual assault or harassment or other serious issues as a condition of employment, you can't receive government contracts.