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.
Pretty heinous. If any company deserves to get the ACORN treatment, it's Halliburton/KBR. So Sen. Al Franken introduced an amendment to the 2010 Defense Appropriations to cut funding from contractors who use this sort of "cover your ass at all costs" in employee contracts, saying, "The constitution gives everybody the right to due process of law... And today, defense contractors are using fine print in their contracts do deny women like Jamie Leigh Jones their day in court... The victims of rape and discrimination deserve their day in court [and] Congress plainly has the constitutional power to make that happen."
So exercise that power he did, in the form of the following language:
None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this [appropriations bill] 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.
Pretty straghtforward -- for legislative language, anyway -- and pretty common sense. But nothing -- absolutely nothing -- is beyond becoming a partisan issue these days and GOP Sen. Jeff Sessions complained that the amendment was just "a political attack directed at Halliburton." I guess kidnapping, rape, and false imprisonment is no big deal in Sessions' world; bringing it up is bad form and a needless embarrassment to the company Dick Cheney used to work for.
In the end, the amendment passed 68-30, with these fine Americans casting the pro-contractor-rape vote:
100% Republican. Kneejerk obstructionism has never been so shameless.
“It means the world to me,” Jones said after the vote. “It means that every tear shed to go public and repeat my story over and over again to make a difference for other women was worth it.”