AP reports that a woman who claims that she was raped back in 2005 while she was working for the company KBR Inc. (which was a subsidiary of Halliburton Co. at the time) settled her case for nearly $3 million dollars this week after winning an arbitration award over the alleged rape.
The woman claimed that she was raped by a State Department employee while she was working for KBR Inc. as a civilian contractor in the city of Basra in Iraq. She filed the lawsuit against KBR Inc., Halliburton, and several other affiliates.
The lawsuit details how the employee, Ms. Tracy Barker had to live in mostly male barracks. While she resided in these barracks, she allegedly endured sexually explicit comments, verbal abuse, and threats of physical abuse. When she tried to complain to KBR Inc., she claims that they punished her by transferring her to Basra. She was allegedly raped by a State Dept. employee. Ms. Barker also has a lawsuit pending against the employee. It was settled in federal court last week.
The lawsuit was dismissed in January 2008 when a Texas judge in Houston ruled that she had to stick with an employment agreement that she signed with the company that stated that any claims that she made against the company would have to go through mediation and arbitration, not the courts.
AP quotes a statement released by KBR Inc. as saying that it disagreed with the arbitration award and has filed a motion to modify the award amount. KBR Inc. did say that it hoped that it proved that arbitration is as neutral as using the courts: "However, the decision validates what KBR has maintained all along; that the arbitration process is truly neutral and works in the best interest of the parties involved."
This is an interesting case since the Senate recently passed a law that prevents the Defense Dept. from working with contractors that require employees to deal with sexual assault and other claims through arbitration and mediation.
It also seems that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in another rape case that an employee of a military contractor can use the courts instead of arbitration.
Ex-contract worker Jamie Leigh Jones also filed a lawsuit against KBR and Halliburton that alleged that she was raped while she was working in Baghdad for the contractor.
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