An amendment that would ban federal funds going to companies that require arbitration in the case of sexual assault passed the Senate on Tuesday. The amendment was offered by Sen. Al Franken and was added to the defense appropriations bill by a vote of 68 to 30.
The amendment was offered after Jamie Leigh Jones, an employee of Kellogg, Brown & Root (formerly a subsidiary of Halliburton) was sexually assaulted by her co-workers in Iraq and then locked in a shipping crate when she tried to report the rape. Her return to the United States was facilitated by U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Tex., but upon her return, she learned that the fine print of her employment contract banned her from taking the case to court.
On the Senate floor, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., called it “a political attack directed at Halliburton.”
Franken rebutted, “This amendment does not single out a single contractor. This amendment would defund any contractor that refuses to give a victim of rape their day in court.”
The amendment was supported by a number of Minnesota organizations including Advocates for Human Rights, Breaking Free, Casa de Esperanza, Mid Minnesota Legal Assistance, the Minnesota Coalition against Sexual Assault, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, the Minnesota National Organization for Women, Minnesota Women Lawyers and the Sexual Violence Center.
“I’m proud of what we accomplished today. Victims of sexual assault deserve their day in court and no corporation should be able to deny them that right,” Franken said. “Jamie’s courage in telling her story will help women all over this country and I’m honored to have been a part of that.”
Jones also praised passage of the amendment. “This amendment makes all the hard times that I have gone through, when going public with such a personal tragedy, worth every tear shed from telling and retelling my horrific experience,” she said. “I am highly honored that Senator Franken and his wife have created this amendment to ensure that others do not have to endure the suffering that I have.”