ABC News reports that another KBR/Halliburton rape victim has come forward. Dawn Leamon is scheduled to testify today before Congress that she was raped earlier this year by a U.S. soldier and a KBR colleague. Mrs. Leamon is the latest of three courageous women to come forward and demand that her employer be held accountable.
Like Jamie Leigh Jones who was raped by KBR coworkers, Mrs. Leamon was drugged before the attack. According to Mrs. Leamon’s testimony, KBR discouraged her from reporting the attack and restricted her movements around the camp. Here is what KBR says:
First and foremost, KBR in no way condones or tolerates sexual harassment. Each employee is expected to adhere to the Company's Code of Business Conduct, and when violations occur, appropriate action is taken. Any reported allegation of sexual harassment or sexual assault is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. KBR's top priority is the safety and security of all employees, and our commitment in that regard is unwavering.Some would argue that KBR’s top commitment is making money, followed closely by making sure that anyone who dares stand up against them is shut down. As we have previously written, KBR employees are forced to sign mandatory arbitration agreements, like the millions of other employees in the U.S. who have signed similar agreements.
Because of those mandatory arbitration agreements, employees like Jamie Leigh Jones will not be able to vindicate their rights in open court. Instead, they are forced into a secret arbitration where the arbitrator is chosen by the employer. The result: in 94% of the arbitrations the employers win, and the employee is forced to pay the arbitrator just to hear their claims, as well the employer's legal expenses.
Perhaps KBR’s statement should read as follows:
First and foremost, KBR in no way condones or tolerates civil rights. Each employee is expected to waive their rights, and when violations occur, appropriate action against the employee is taken. Any reported allegation of sexual harassment or sexual assault is taken seriously and thoroughly investigated, followed by a cover-up and then a legal strategy to force arbitration and seal all records. KBR's top priority is the safety and security of our profits, and our commitment in that regard is unwavering.Two pieces of legislation, the Arbitration Fairness Act and the Civil Rights Act of 2008 would return many of the protections that Mrs. Leamon, Ms. Jones and millions of workers around the country never should have lost.