a step towards justice for jamie leigh jones

A US judge has taken a stand for justice and accountability over unchecked corporate power. Jamie Leigh Jones, who was gang-raped when she was a KBR employee in Iraq, will have her case heard in court, not by arbitration.
A Houston woman who says she was gang raped by co-workers at a Halliburton/KBR camp in Baghdad won a major court battle late Friday when a Texas judge ordered that she can bring her case to court instead of forcing her into secretive arbitration proceedings with Halliburton and KBR.

"We are ecstatic that [District Judge Keith Ellison] had the courage to uphold justice in this case," Jamie Leigh Jones' attorney Todd Kelly said after the decision.

Jones says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.

Jones returned from Iraq following her alleged rape in 2005. She was the subject of an exclusive ABC News report in December, which led to Congressional hearings.

After months of waiting for criminal charges to be filed, Jones decided to file suit against Halliburton and KBR.

KBR had moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom, as provided under the terms of her original employment contract.

Ellison, however, wrote in his order Friday that Jones' claims of sexual assault, battery, rape, false imprisonment and others fall beyond the scope of her employment contract.

"The Court does not believe that Plaintiff's bedroom should be considered the workplace, even though her housing was provided by her employer," Ellison wrote.

Ellison did, however, rule that a sexual harassment claim that Jones included in her case against her supervisor in Texas would have to be decided in arbitration.

Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, has said it is improperly named in the suit and has referred calls to KBR.

In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings and Jones' claims would not have been heard before a judge and jury.

Background here, here, here and here. Jamie Leigh Jones' foundation is here.

No comments: