Information from Sen. Franken’s office
Yesterday, the amendment offered by U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to stop funding defense contractors who deny assault victims their day in court passed the United States Senate by a vote of 68 – 30.
Last Thursday, Sen. Franken introduced an amendment (S.2588) to the FY2010 Defense Appropriations Bill that would restrict funding to defense contractors who commit employees to mandatory binding arbitration in the case of sexual assault. The legislation, endorsed by 61 women’s, labor and public interest groups, was inspired by the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, who watched the vote from the Senate gallery today.Senator Franken said:

I’m proud of what we accomplished today. Victims of sexual assault deserve their day in court and no corporation should be able to deny them that right. Jamie’s courage in telling her story will help women all over this country and I’m honored to have been a part of that.

“I am highly honored that Senator Franken and his wife have created this amendment to ensure that others do not have to endure the suffering that I have,” said Jones. “This amendment makes all the hard times that I have gone through, when going public with such a personal tragedy, worth every tear shed from telling and retelling my horrific experience. I know this amendment will save so many in the future.”
Specifically, Sen. Franken’s amendment:

  • Does not require contractors to change or modify existing employment contracts.  It only bars funds to contractors who continue to use these mandatory arbitration clauses in their employment contracts.
  • Narrowly targets the most egregious violations and applies to defense contracts, many of which are administered abroad, where women are the most vulnerable and least likely to have support resources.  The amendment will apply to many contractors that have already demonstrated their incompetence in efficiently carrying out defense contracts, and have further demonstrated their unwillingness and their inability to protect women from sexual assault.
  • Applies to claims arising out of sexual assault, like assault & battery (including rape), intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, retention, and supervision, as well as Title VII civil rights claims, which were specifically designed to protect vulnerable groups in the workplace.