Score one for Senator Al Franken.
Thanks to him, Jamie Leigh Jones, a former KBR employee who alleges she was gang raped by her coworkers will get her day in court.
I think we call that equal protection.
In Jones’ case, it took an amendment to the 2010 defense appropriations bill. That’s right, freshman Franken had to get up and suggest that government shouldn’t be in the business of giving rewards — or government contracts — to companies that strip their workers of basic Constitutional rights, like the right to a jury trial.
Jones, lest we forget, has testified that she was raped and battered so badly by a group of her co-workers in Iraq that she required reconstructive surgery. Her assailants locked her in a shipping container for 24 hours without food, water, and she has testified before Congress that the company “warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job."
Nice, huh? The Department of Justice brought no criminal charges and Jones had to battle her case in arbitration before taking it to court, because, well, for all these many years, KBR (formerly a division of Halliburton) has a clause in its contracts that calls on prospective hires to sign away their right to court trials on sexual assault, discrimination and harassment charges.
Also lest we forget, THIRTY Republican Senators voted against Franken’s amendment. Thirty. Gotta love those family values.
Now, thanks to big Al, Jones will at last get to press her suit because KBR’s dropped their appeal and a company spokesman said Franken’s amendment made them do it.
“She’s one of the most courageous women I have ever met and any role played in helping her seek justice was my honor.” Franken said of Jones. No doubt those thirty no-voters think they’re courageous too; big, brave men, voting against a rape victim’s right to prosecute in court. Go for it guys. Good luck with that. And with impressing your daughters.
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.