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KBR lawsuits (re alleged rapes in Iraq)

In May 2007 Jamie Leigh Jones sued her former employer, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), and several KBR employees in US federal court.  Jones alleges she was drugged, raped and seriously injured by several co-workers while working for KBR at Camp Hope, Baghdad, Iraq.  She further alleges that after reporting the rape, she was confined to a shipping container and told she would no longer have a job if she sought medical treatment outside Iraq.  Jones’ lawsuit alleges KBR was vicariously responsible for the sexual assault and was negligent in the hiring and supervision of its personnel.  At the time of the incident, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton.  KBR is now a separate company.

Jones’ employment contract with KBR contained a clause requiring her to agree to take any personnel disputes to private arbitration rather than to court.  In November 2007, KBR moved to compel Jones to arbitrate her claims rather than to proceed in court, arguing that Jones could not bring the lawsuit because of the arbitration clause.  Jones countered that this clause could not apply to sexual assault because the assault was not “work related”.  The judge allowed the claims related to the assault to proceed in court.  KBR appealed this ruling, but the court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

Jones’ case went to trial on 14 June 2011.  On 8 July 2011 the jury announced its verdict -- it found in favour of KBR on all counts.

After Jones reported her alleged sexual assault, a number of other women came forward alleging that they too were raped while working for KBR in Iraq.  Several other women have filed lawsuits against KBR alleging sexual assaults and injuries similar to Jones’ case.

- "Texas jury rejects ex-KBR employee Iraq rape claim", Anna Driver & Braden Reddall, Reuters, 8 Jul 2011
- “Ex-KBR worker presses claim of rape in Iraq”, Carol Christian, Houston Chronicle, 14 Jun 2011
- “Arbitration Not Mandatory for Ex-KBR Employee Allegedly Raped in Iraq”, Miriam Rozen, Texas Lawyer, 30 Sep 2009
- “Federal Judge Rules Iraq KBR 'Rape Victim' Can Seek Trial In US”, Sonia Verma, Times [UK] 12 May 2008
- “Another KBR Rape Case”, Karen Houppert, Nation, 21 Apr 2008
- “Victim: Gang-Rape Cover-Up by U.S., Halliburton/KBR”, Brian Ross, ABC News, 10 Dec 2007

- KBR: “Discrepancies Regarding the Jones Allegations
- Kelly Law Firm [counsel to plaintiff]: “Rape and Assault Cases Against Halliburton/KBR

- US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit: [PDF] Jones, et al. v. Halliburton, et al., 15 Sep 2009
- US District Court for the Southern District of Texas: 
  - [PDF] Jones, et al. v. Halliburton, et al. - Memorandum and Order, 9 May 2008
  - [PDF] Jones, et al. v. Halliburton, et al. - KBR Defendants' Motion to Compel Arbitration and to Stay Proceedings, 1 Nov 2007
  - [PDF] Jamie Leigh Jones, et al. v. Halliburton, et al. - Second Amended Complaint, 30 May 2007

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30 June 2007

Ex-KBR workers sue firms for abuse / Women allege they endured sexually charged environment while in Iraq

Author: Robert Crowe, Houston Chronicle [USA]

Four women who worked for Houston-based Halliburton Co.'s former subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root have filed federal lawsuits against the companies, claiming they endured sexual harassment and, in two cases, rape while working in Iraq... KBR would not comment specifically on the cases, but spokeswoman Heather Browne said all KBR employees are briefed on the company's code of business conduct, which "strictly prohibits sexual harassment by KBR employees," before being deployed to Iraq. Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said her company "is improperly named" in the lawsuits.

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23 December 2007

Gang rape Green Zone?

Author: Yvonne Roberts, Guardian [UK]

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones…was working in Iraq for military contractor, KBR (a subsidiary of Halliburton) when she says she was drugged and gang-raped by several co-workers…Jamie Leigh Jones and at least 11 other women now claiming they have been raped and sexually assaulted while working in Baghdad's Green Zone…Jamie Leigh…has now filed a civil lawsuit against KBR and Halliburton…Bill Utt, chairman, president and CEO of KBR, issued a memo to employees about the case following extensive coverage in the American media. He said the "safety and security" of employees remains "a top priority". He said the company, having investigated, "disputes portions of Ms Jones' version of the facts"…

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26 December 2007

Sexual Violence: An Occupational Hazard -- In Iraq and at Home

Author: Marie Tessier, Women's Media Center

As employment lawyers know, Jamie Leigh Jones is, in the end, one extreme example among thousands of victims of violence whose jobs and careers suffer as a result...Nearly half of all sexual assault victims are fired or lose their jobs in the year following the assault, according to figures from the feminist law group Legal Momentum. Some states have passed laws to ensure that crime victims have a right to leave work for criminal proceedings or medical care. The far-reaching impact of sexual assault, however, often renders such legal protections meaningless, and few cover civil court proceedings such as seeking protection from abuse.

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3 April 2008

Another KBR Rape Case

Author: Karen Houppert, The Nation [USA]

…[A]ll [Lisa Smith, a paramedic for a KBR in southern Iraq] could remember of the night before was screaming and screaming as [a US soldier] anally penetrated her while a colleague who worked for…KBR held her hand--but instead of helping her, as she had hoped, he jammed his penis in her mouth…[A] rash of new sexual assault and sexual harassment complaints are being lodged against overseas contractors--by their own employees…Most of these complaints never see the light of day, thanks to the fine print in employee contracts that compels employees into binding arbitration instead of allowing their complaints to be tried in a public courtroom…In response to a request for comment…a company spokesperson [said] “Smith's "allegations are currently under investigation by the appropriate law enforcement authorities. Therefore, KBR cannot comment on the specifics of the allegations or investigation." The spokesperson added, "Any allegation of sexual harassment or assault is taken seriously and investigated thoroughly." [also refers to Halliburton, Service Employees International Inc.]

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8 April 2008

In Their First Joint Interview, Two Ex-KBR Employees Say They Were Raped by Co-Workers in Iraq

Author: Interview by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now [USA] with ex-KBR employees Lisa Smith (pseudonym) & Jamie Leigh Jones, and journalist Karen Houppert

[includes link to video of interview] Another female employee of the military contractor KBR has come forward with allegations of rape in Iraq…Last year, former KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones sued KBR and its former parent company Halliburton after she says she was…gang-raped by employees of the company in Baghdad. Today, in their first joint interview, we speak to both of these women...KBR declined our request to join us on the broadcast…but the corporate communications director…did release this statement. It said, “The safety of all employees remains KBR’s top priority…In no way are the allegations publicized recently, an indication of KBR’s treatment of women. The Company’s zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment is unwavering.”

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17 April 2008

KBR's Rape Problem

Author: Karen Houppert, The Nation

As news broke of the rape of yet another US military contractor employee in Iraq…the Senate Foreign Relations Committee convened a hearing April 9 to demand that the Justice Department explain why it has failed to prosecute a single sexual assault case…since the Iraq War began. "American women working in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be sexually assaulted while their assailants go free," said Senator Bill Nelson, who called the hearing...Obviously, US military contractors have an interest in avoiding the bad publicity that would follow if these complaints were not kept secret [refers to Halliburton, KBR, Service Employees International]

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16 September 2009

Fifth Circuit: Halliburton Rape Case Will Head to Court

Author: Ashby Jones, Wall Street Journal Law Blog

...[The] Fifth Circuit [US Court of Appeals] on Wednesday ruled that a Texas woman who alleges she was gang-raped by co-workers while working for military contractor KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton, in Iraq will go to court instead of arbitration... The woman, Jamie Leigh Jones...alleges she was drugged and raped by several Halliburton workers in her company barracks bedroom. She also claims she was placed under armed guard and held in a “prison-like container” for hours after reporting the alleged attack.

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15 October 2009

Rape case to force US defence firms into the open

Author: Chris McGreal, Guardian [UK]

US defence firms are to be barred from lucrative government contracts if they refuse to allow employees access to the courts, after a woman working for a Halliburton subsidiary in Iraq was prevented from taking legal action over an alleged gang rape by fellow workers. Al Franken, the Senate's newest member, has won an amendment to the defence appropriations bill prompted by the case of Jamie Leigh Jones. She alleges that she was drugged and raped by seven American contractors in Baghdad in 2005. Jones...was employed by KBR...

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9 December 2009

KBR worker reportedly raped at base in Iraq

Author: James Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle [USA]

An American woman working for Houston-based KBR at a U.S. military base in Iraq was reportedly raped and beaten… U.S. military officials in Iraq confirmed the Nov. 30 attack …The report of the incident at the base north of Baghdad is the latest in a series of complaints of sexual harassment and assault by women working for the international construction and services contractor…“Army CID is the lead investigating agency for this alleged incident and as such KBR cannot comment. Any further query should be directed to Army CID. KBR is cooperating with the investigation,” said Heather Browne, KBR's director of corporate communications.

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22 December 2009

Obama Signs Into Law Restriction on Arbitration Clauses

Author: David Ingram, National Law Journal

Most military contractors will no longer be able to enforce mandatory arbitration clauses in their employment contracts under a provision signed into law over the weekend. The provision is included in the 2009-2010 spending bill for the U.S. Department of Defense…[Trial lawyers and consumers groups] say that clauses mandating the use of arbitration deny employees an impartial hearing in open court, while supporters of arbitration have defended the process as both fair and efficient. [refers to KBR]

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