A woman who was allegedly raped while working for Halliburton/Kellogg Brown & Root in Iraq will have her civil claims heard in court, not by a company-selected arbitrator, thanks to a ruling by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The details of Jamie Leigh Jones’s case are sad and disturbing. She claims that, while working in Iraq, she was drugged, beaten, and gang-raped by her fellow employees, then locked in a guarded storage container by her superiors. Upon returning to the U.S., she sued her former employer for claims relating to the rape, as well as sexual harassment and several fraud and employment claims.
Halliburton/KBR had tried to compel arbitration for all of Jones’s claims, including the torts related to the alleged rape (assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent hiring, retention, and supervision of the employees involved; and false imprisonment), by citing that the arbitration clause in Jones’s employment contract and arguing that the alleged rape was a personal injury claim arising in the workplace (in this case, Halliburton wants “workplace” to include Jones’s sleeping quarters because they were employer-provided).
The Fifth Circuit opinion affirmed the lower court holding, which allowed arbitration for some of Jones’s claims but rightly found that the civil claims related to the alleged rape were not related to Jones’s employment and fell outside the scope of the arbitration clause in Jones’s employment contract. We hope that Jones and her aggressors see justice done.
The case is Jones v. Halliburton, No. 08-20380 (pardon our lack of Bluebooking).