Gang Rape Not Connected To Employment: Case Against KBR Moves Forward

In 2005 former Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones was gang-raped by co-workers then held in a shipping container for at least 24 hours without food, water, or a bed so she couldn’t report the rape.  Despite suffering from torn pectoral muscles and ruptured implants she was warned that if she left Iraq for medical treatment she’d be out of a job.  When she did report the assault to the Department of Justice they refused to bring any criminal charges. 

Jones then brought a civil suit against KBR arguing, among other things, that they negligently hired and supervised those who assaulted her.  Jones and KBR spent the next fifteen months in mandatory arbitration- a private, secret forum with a mediator hired by KBR to hear Jones’s claims.  If Jones lost at arbitration she would have no record of the proceedings, nor would she have any right of appeal. 

As the arbitration dragged on Jones decided to fight the arbitration clause and won.  On Tuesday, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Jones’s rape and false imprisonment claims were not job-related and thus not covered by her employment contract.   Such a conclusion seems simple and apparent to most outsiders, but in fact Halliburton had used this argument to keep Jones and her claims out of a public forum for years. 

It took Jones three years alone to get to the point where she can finally sue the people who assaulted her and the company that allowed the assault to happen.  According to the New York Times there are at least 38 other women like Jones with sexual assault and harassment claims against Halliburton/KBR.  Those are just the reported incidents.  According to the Times, comprehensive statistics on sexual assaults in Iraq are unavailable because no one in the government or contracting industry tracks them.

Jones’s case highlights the glaring disparity employees face when trying to sue their employers.  Mandatory arbitration clauses usually cover any claim “related to” an employee’s job.  Oftentimes this covers claims of harassment and discrimination.

While alternative dispute resolution forums can be helpful in providing a quicker means to resolving a dispute, they are fraught with problems.  Oftentimes no formal record of the proceedings exist, employers pick the arbitrator, and, like Jones’s case there is usually no right of appeal from an arbitrator’s decision.  More often than not the deck is stacked against the employee on the outset.

This is particularly troubling in Jones’s case since the evidence is mounting that the government provided nearly zero oversight of its military contractors.  In fact, it took Jones testifying before Congress and attention from the New York Times to finally get the government to examine the legal gray area these private contractors inhabit.  Here’s hoping Jones and the countless other women out there can finally find some justice after fighting both for their country and their dignity.

photo courtesy of DIVIDSHUB via Flickr


David B.
David B8 years ago

so why are we surprised that this would happen in any company d/chainey is involved in!! why isn't it a surprise it would be haliburton,with it's past records that the government keeps ignoring and reusing.most know there is a sick and deviant nature running thru the average halibution corethat they would fight this and try to cover for these pieces of human trashtells you what kind of company it is !!

neil  .
Neil A8 years ago

To a great extent men who join an army are more or less lacking in some brain cells or have perverted ones, they often are not capable of acting in a socialised fashion & have to bolster themselves by feeling they have power over others or even by debasing them. I think any man found guilty ofg rape which is the most extreme violation should be jailed for a very long time & have his nuts cut off (with a rusty blunt knife) by a woman who volunteers to do it or have to do it to himself. those men are despicable & notworthy of anything just total s**t

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers8 years ago

This is a horrible crime. those doing this evil hopefully be brought to justice. One day they will have to face their maker Jesus Christ. I hope before then they have repented and done their time in jail. Otherwise they will spend eternity in a place a`lot hotter than Iraq.

Sarah D.
Sarah D8 years ago

That's disgusting and shameful.

Dickson Arharhire

This is most irresponsible and shameful expression of manliness and Haliburton must immediately remove any covers under which these meatly men imagne they can get away with such base animal behaviour.

Junior W.
Junior Walker8 years ago

That's apalling, which rogue nation from the axis of evil did this happen again?

Ariel C.
Past Member 8 years ago

This has happened in all countries in the majority of companies, at least the sexual harrassment part, everywhere in the world. Many women have been raped by bosses and co-workers. Women have had to always deal with it and alot of companies side with the guilty party. I hate to say this for the reason that it might ruffle some women's feathers but a smaller percentage of men have had to as well at least in the case of sexual harrassment. I have heard of many cases of women losing their jobs for what they had to suffer and then taking it to court. Men don't usually report it I am told and when they do it is just brushed aside with maybe the guilty party told to stop. Men don't usually report it for another reason that they might look less manly not being able to be a man and handle it themselves. Women are often viewed as having done something to be the cause of it themselves. Sometimes the company should do something but couldn't care less. Well there are too many excuses and reasons to make for the case of the guilty one or ones. It just has to stop and anyone who cares even a bit knows that. I support the victims not the guilty parties and that includes companies who contribute to the ongoing harrassment and sexual abuse by inaction or not supporting the victim a 100%

Michael M.
Michael M8 years ago

this just sickens me. I want those men who commited this horrible cr4ime to face justice. are private contractors immune from the law? they are just mercenaries and I have a very low opinion of them. I sure all of you heard about blackwater and their scandal but this eevnt tops the list. seriously this cannot be allowed to go unresolved. so this is what happens when we hire private contractors?

Michelle T.
Michelle T8 years ago

Hans, there are scumbags everywhere. Please don't hold it against the entire country because of the greed and slimy morals of those in power. We are all here on this site to make a difference and expose this type of behavior, are we not?

Ray L.
Lindell L8 years ago

If this isn't the very definition of RICO, I don't know what is.