The liberals strike back and pass the Franken Amendment. Remember when we thought Franken was a washed up comic who was never really funny? Well, seems like he’s been actually working in the Senate and today was able to get Senate Amend. 2566, which is aimed at defense contractors, passed.

Al Franken

Al Franken

Specifically the bill prohibits “the use of funds for any Federal contract with Halliburton Company, KBR, Inc., any of their subsidiaries or affiliates, or any other contracting party if such contractor or a subcontractor at any tier under such contract requires that employees or independent contractors sign mandatory arbitration clauses regarding certain claims.”

Basically this bill would prohibit federal funds to go to any defense company (notice how Halliburton is singled out) that requires arbitration for sexual assault cases instead of a full criminal trial.

This legislation is in response to a Halliburton employee Jamie Leigh Jones who alleges that she was raped by co-workers while in Iraq in 2005. When she managed to get home and try to sue the company she discovered that her employment contract required the case to arbitrated, and that she could not file suite.

Personally I have no problem with the Franken Amendment, besides the fact that it singles out Halliburton, which Democrats love to use as their favorite boogey man next to Karl Rove. Actually, I don’t get why so many Republicans voted against it. Do we really want to say that victims of sexual assault can’t get access to courts to sue their employer. I’m all in favor of arbitration and mediation, but those types of alternate dispute resolution were not really set up to handle victims of rape or sexual assault, they are more for contractual issues, pay issues, etc. We should have judges and juries of our peers evaluating these kinds of important cases. The biggest strike against arbitration is that they are nearly impossible to appeal, so once the case is decided, there is nothing you can do after that point.

Sen. Sessions, who did vote against the bill, argued that this gives Congress too much power to alter employment contracts of private companies and that it went against the recommendation of the Defense Department, but eh, I don’t think those concerns outweigh the concerns that rape victims should have more legal protections.

So, as much as I hate to say it, good on you Sen. Franken. I think your incessant hounding of Halliburton is childish, but over all, the Franken Amendment probably accomplishes something worthwhile.

Jamie Leigh Jones