Vitter: ACORN Bad, Companies That Allow Employees To Rape Other Employees Good

I was unaware of this, but several large defense contractors make employees sign contracts surrendering their rights to take claims of workplace sexual assault, battery or harassment to court. That’s led to situations like this one:

The most prominent victim of unprosecuted rape in Iraq is former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones, who was drugged and very brutally raped by an unknown number of her colleagues, after which they locked her in a trailer and denied her medical care for her injuries–which included bruises, bleeding and ruptured breast implants–to prevent her from having a rape exam and implicating them. She was only rescued when one colleague left guarding her trailer-turned-prison-cell allowed her to use his cell phone to call her parents, who informed her Congressman, Republican Ted Poe, who eventually was able to obtain her release. The Justice Department declined to investigate or prosecute the case.

When Jones returned to the United States, she attempted to sue to receive some recompense for her rape, assault and illegal detention, only to find out that her employment contract required her to submit to arbitration for any work-related disputes, and that KBR considered her rape, assault and unlawful detention a work-related dispute. After 15 months of KBR stalling, she sued to have the right to go to court at all over her rape. In September, an appeals court ruled that, in fact, her rape was not job-related and the arbitration clause didn’t apply.

Jones’s story is, sadly, not unique. Poe documented at least four other cases of contractors raped in Iraq besides Jones. Another woman also attempted to sue KBR after her rape in Florida court, and a fifth was the subject of a heart-breaking Mother Jones profile last year. Despite KBR’s legal intransigence, they continue to bid on and receive military contracts.

To prevent these situations in the future, Al Franken offered an amendment to a recent bill  that would have denied any military contract to any company:

“if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”

Now, given all the hoopla about ACORN, and the rush to ensure federal money doesn’t go to corrupt companies, you would think Franken’s bill would be a no-brainer. Listen to David Vitter, the self proclaimed “most outspoken critic of ACORN,” discuss his zeal for purity in government contracts:

“After months of beating the drum and continued news reports of criminal investigations, the president and his administration are finally starting to distance themselves from ACORN. The Census dropping ACORN as a partner is a good, common sense move. Now we must go one step further and support my simple and direct amendment, which declares that no federal funds should go ACORN,”

If giving legal advice to prostitutes is enough to get an organization defunded, then surely allowing employees to rape other employees ought to have the same result. Right? Right? Right?

The Senate voted for [Franken’s] amendment 68-30. The 30 Senators that think Halliburton subsidiary KBR ought to be allowed to deny its female employees access to the legal system when they are raped by its male employees are, naturally, all Republican and include: Jones’ Senator John Cornyn; the philandering Christian John Ensign; noted prostitution enthusiast David Vitter.

D’oh!

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