June 29, 2011- Former Halliburton employee and gang rape victim, Jamie Leigh Jones is seeking justice for herself and all other women who have been raped and can’t sue due to binding mandatory clauses in their employment contracts while working overseas for government contractors. Jones is one of a group of women who claim they were harassed or assaulted while working for KBR and former parent company Halliburton in Iraq.
The more details you hear about this story the more enraged you get. It seems Ms. Jones was savagely gang raped by her co-workers who had no fear of facing legal consequences. Instead of compassion, her Halliburton/KBR employers imprisoned her in a container denying her access to the outside world. An Army doctor’s examination that verified that Jones was a victim of gang rape has mysteriously disappeared. It doesn’t matter much anyway since
Halliburton/KBR claims its immune from being sued in criminal court. Apparently they’re right. Laws put in place primarily under the Bush administration basically give contractors working in Iraq immunity from prosecution. When the criminal courts failed to act, Jones’ lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton’s response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration because she’d signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. The arbitration process is basically a stacked deck whereby the corporation almost always wins. Corporations regularly use mandatory arbitration clauses to bypass the judicial system.
Unknowingly, Jamie signed away her right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel. You might be thinking that she did it to herself, that she should have read all the fine print when she applied for that job. Don’t judge her too harshly, the chances are that you and everyone you know have done the same thing, and often. Don’t think so? Then I guess you knew that when you signed up for that checking account, you gave permission for the back to freely give out your social security number to whomever they wish. Yeah, that’s right, the same company that will sell you identity theft protection. Most people don’t consider that when we click on the “Accept” button or sign those ever growing “forms” filled with ever shrinking type we sign away our legal and sometimes human rights. It’s our responsibility to understand what we’re signing, you say. I guess it’s the responsibility of everyone to finish law school too, or bring a lawyer with us every time we go shopping. We sign these “agreements” without understanding them because we really have little to no choice if we need the product or service they are extorting us for. This is America, and we are free to purchase from their competition but they too will insist that we agree to whatever conditions they demand. In just about any industry today, the few remaining companies are more like cohorts than competitors. Can anyone say collusion? If you assumed our government would protect us from such obvious injustice, then you are more naive than young Jamie Leigh was.
As always, it comes down to the fact that our elected leaders work for the people who put them in office. And without limits to corporate campaign donations, our respected leaders will always work for and side with the Halliburtons of this world. That leaves the rest of us as vulnerable as poor Jamie Leigh Jones.