For Immediate Release: October 6, 2009
Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500, ext. 369
Sexual Assault & Discrimination Victims Protected From Defense Contractor Forced Arbitrations
Senate passes amendment to DoD appropriations bill banning forced arbitrations against defense contractor employees in most egregious circumstances
Washington, DC— Jamie Leigh Jones was raped, drugged, beaten, and then confined to a shipping container by KBR/Halliburton employees while working in Iraq. Because of a clause placed in her employment contract, KBR forced her to submit to a binding, secret, non-appealable arbitration. Jamie had to fight to obtain access to the justice system because she unknowingly signed an arbitration clause as part of her 18-page employment contract.
But an amendment passed today by the U.S. Senate (S.A. 2588), as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (H.R. 3326), will prevent other defense contractor employees from being forced into arbitrations as a result of sexual assault, harassment or other forms of discrimination. Upon the President’s final signature of the bill, the amendment – sponsored by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) – would bar defense contractors from imposing forced arbitration clauses on their employees for sexual assault claims or Title VII violations.
“No corporation should ever be able to force their employees or customers into these biased, one-sided proceedings,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone. “But this one amendment goes a long way in protecting the rights of defense contractor employees, who should never endure what Jamie did to receive justice after such a horrific ordeal.”
Jamie will testify tomorrow at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in support of the bipartisan Arbitration Fairness Act (S. 931 / H.R. 1020) at 10am in 226 Dirksen. Sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), the Arbitration Fairness Act would ensure that the decision to arbitrate is made voluntarily and after a dispute has arisen, so corporations cannot manipulate the system in their favor at the expense of consumers and employees.