Back in the early part of 2008 I made a post, Sexual Harassment & Assault in Iraq: Tracy Barker’s Story. Through arbatration, Tracy was awarded nearly $3 million. According to Tracy’s web site, and to no ones surprise, KBR is refusing to pay the settlement.
The site states:
In a highly publicized corporate arbitration case involving an employee of an American defense contractor conducting business overseas, Tracy Barker, and the employer KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton; Court records filed on November 18, 2009 show the corporation suffered a judgment against it of $2,934,376.60 and now refuses to pay the face amount of the judgment and is seeking to modify the award and limit her pain and suffering losses to $300,000.00.
KBR moved the District Court in Houston to force Ms. Barker to litigate her case before an arbitrator and agreed to be bound by the result when her original case was filed in 2007. The case will return to the docket of the federal court in Houston for further litigation after the arbitrator considers KBR’s motion which is being opposed by Barker’s attorney.
The following is from the Associated Press.
Nov 19, 5:16 PM EST
Woman awarded $3M in assault claim against KBR
By JUAN A. LOZANO
Associated Press Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — A woman who claimed she was raped in 2005 while working in Iraq for a former Halliburton Co. subsidiary has been awarded nearly $3 million by an arbitrator to settle her case.
Tracy Barker had sued U.S. contractor KBR Inc., its former parent company Halliburton and several affiliates in May 2007, claiming she was sexually attacked by a State Department employee while working as a civilian contractor in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
A federal judge in Houston had dismissed Barker’s lawsuit in January 2008, ruling she had to abide by an employment agreement she signed that said any claims she made against the companies would have to be settled through arbitration and not the courts.
Court records filed this week show Barker was awarded a judgment of $2.93 million to settle her arbitration claim against KBR.
The Associated Press doesn’t usually identify those who report they were sexually assaulted, but Barker made her identity public in her lawsuit.
“It took me a long time to get here. I’m happy about the award,” Barker, 38, who lives in Yuma, Ariz., told the AP.
In a statement, Houston-based KBR said Thursday it disagreed with the interim ruling from the arbitrator and it has filed a motion to modify the award.
“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,” the statement said.
Barker said she was upset KBR is trying to modify the award.
“They are still dragging it out,” she said. “They didn’t win and now they want to amend the award. You can’t with binding arbitration. How is that fair?”
In her lawsuit, Barker had claimed while working in the companies’ procurement department in Baghdad, she was housed in mostly male barracks and consistently subjected to sexually explicit comments and verbal and physical threats of abuse. Barker claimed she and other employees complained to the companies but they did nothing and instead retaliated against her.
Barker was later transferred to Basra, where she claimed that in June 2005, she was raped in her room by the State Department employee, who she also sued. That case was transferred to federal court in Virginia, where it was formally settled last week. Details of the settlement were not made public.
U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, in dismissing the lawsuit against KBR, said that until Congress tells courts that binding contracts to arbitrate do not include sexual harassment claims, Barker’s claims had to be arbitrated.
Last month, the Senate approved a measure prohibiting the Defense Department from contracting with companies that require employees to resolve sexual assault allegations and other claims through arbitration.
The amendment was attached to a larger defense spending bill. A vote on the full bill was expected later.
Miller did not dismiss claims by Barker’s husband, Galen Barker, that he had experienced loss of consortium – diminished care, companionship or affection – because of what his wife had experienced. The Barkers’ attorney asked Miller this week to put those claims back on his docket.
In September, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that a similar lawsuit filed by another ex-contract worker, Jamie Leigh Jones, could go to court in Houston instead of arbitration.
Jones filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 claiming she was raped by Halliburton and KBR firefighters while working at Camp Hope, Baghdad, in 2005.
Jones has also made her identity public in her lawsuit and her face and name have been broadcast in media reports and on her own Web site.
In February 2008 Tracy did an interview with The People Speak Radio detailing what she suffered in Iraq and how the process was going at that time. As with many of these cases dealing with civilian contractors working for some of the more uncouth contracting companies, this has been a long drawn out deal. In Tracy’s interview with The People Speak Radio, she stated that she and Jana Crowder, now former owner of the web site “American Contractors in Iraq“, had created the War Zone Workers foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to helping United States citizens and legal residents working abroad for federal contractors, corporations, or government entities secure benefits under existing laws designed for their protection and to provide resources so that contractors can obtain immediate medical and mental healthcare upon their return home.
Even though I am mentioned as being a founder with this foundation, I have not heard anything more about it. I have searched Tracy’s web site and the internet and can find nothing about this foundation either. The web address that she mentions in her interview goes no where. I am sure that the length of time it has take to get this case settled the idea has gone by the wayside. Maybe once the courts are forced to abide by the arbitrators ruling, Tracy will be able to get this great idea off the ground.