Halliburton: Because "Helliburton" Would Have Been Too Obvious

You may recall the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, the KBR contractor in Iraq who was gang-raped, then imprisoned by KBR to try to keep her from reporting it. You may recall Jones was suing KBR and its former parent company, Halliburton, while KBR was trying to push the case into secret, binding arbitration.

That case is still winding its way through the legal system, but if Jones was looking for good precedent to work with, she didn't get any help today:
A mother of five who says she was sexually harassed and assaulted while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq is headed for a secretive arbitration process rather than being able to present her case in open court.

A judge in Texas has ruled that Tracy Barker's case will be heard in arbitration, according to the terms of her initial employment contract.

Barker says that while in Iraq she was constantly propositioned by her superior, threatened and isolated after she reported an incident of sexual assault.

Barker's attorneys had argued that Halliburton/KBR had created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at their camps and that sort of condition is not the type of dispute that she could have expected to be within the scope of an arbitration provision.

District Judge Gray Miller, however, wrote in his order that "whether it is wise to send this type of claim to arbitration is not a question for this court to decide."

One might think that sexual harassment might be the kind of claim that should be adjudicated. After all, arbitration makes sense in cases of breach of contract, or pay disputes.

But evidently not. Barker could look for help from the legal system, but as we all know, contractors in Iraq are basically operating in a pure libertarian fantasy world, where laws don't matter and all are free. Well, except for the women getting raped and harassed, and the Iraqis getting mowed down at checkpoints. Other than that, things are going swimmingly.

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