The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled this week that former military contractor Jamie Leigh Jones' 2005 federal lawsuit filed against the Halliburton Corporation and its affiliated subsidiaries can be tried in court rather than undergoing binding arbitration. The Court decided whether Jones' case, which rested on allegations that she was drugged and raped by Halliburton employees in the barracks while stationed as a clerical worker in Baghdad, was directly related to her employment. According to Mother Jones, Jones' employment contract with Halliburton required mandatory binding arbitration for lawsuits related to her employment.
Jones' suit also alleges that she was held in a "prison-like container" guarded by an armed guard for several hours after she reported the alleged assault, according to the Associated Press.
Judge Rhesa Hawkins Barksdale wrote in the Fifth Circuit's opinion (see PDF) that "Halliburton/KBR essentially asks this court to read the arbitration provision so broadly as to encompass any claim related to Jones' employer, or any incident that happened during her employment, but that is not the language of the contract. We do not hold that, as a matter of law, sexual-assault allegations can never 'relate to' someone's employment. For this action, however, Jones' allegations do not 'touch matters' related to her employment, let alone have a 'significant relationship' to her employment contract." Furthermore, she wrote "just as we held that the incident was not 'related to' her employment for purposes of arbitration because she lived in employer-provided housing, we also hold that this fact does not establish the incident occurred 'in or about the workplace'."
Jones said in an e-mail to the Associated Press, "This is wonderful news, not only for me but for those who have been bound into mandatory arbitrations."
Media Resources: Associated Press 9/15/09; Mother Jones 9/16/09; Jamie Leigh Jones v. Halliburton
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .