The Binding Arbitration Clause is a very secretive way to coerce people into giving up the right to their day in court to redress any wrongs done to them. This is what happened to Jamie Leigh Jones, a 19-year-old soldier. She along with about 400 others was offered a special assignment in Iraq that offered high pay with free room and board to work on an oil installation, a subsidiary company of Halliburton. She happily signed the contract and was shocked when she got to Iraq to see stark portable barracks where men and women were housed together, two to a room, with double bunks. But, she had signed and she went to work.
There were many more men than women, and she was constantly harassed by guys who would grab her butt, try to touch her breasts and make suggestive comments. She complained to her boss about the sexual harassment and was told he’d report it.
One day she found herself incoherent and in the nurses station. She had been drugged and gang raped. They gave her a rape kit which showed pubic hair in her anus and vagina. After filling out the paperwork she asked to go home. She was told she signed a contract and couldn’t go home. She could go for arbitration, a part of her signed contract.
When she got back to her room, she was astonished to find that one of the rapists was still in her room in his bottom bunk. It hit her that he was unafraid because there was no consequences. She again went to her superiors and asked to go home thinking they have an obligation to see that she was safe in her workplace. She refused to work and insisted she be allowed to go home. They locked her in a storage container and held her there for refusing the arbitration which was all she was entitled to. She insisted she had a right to a phone call. Denied. After several weeks, a guard felt sorry for her and handed her his phone and she called her father. He called his congressman, Al Franken, and they got her back to the states where she had to have reconstruction surgery from the brutal rape.
Here is how an arbitration clause works. When you sign the contract, you give up your rights. Arbitration is held in secret. The arbitrators are paid by the company and they tend to side with the company because if they don’t, they get black balled, and are not hired back. Arbitrators have no motivation to be fair. Furthermore, the results are kept secret and Jaime learned later that other women were raped in that installation but, because of the arbitration clause, that information is not allowed to be shared. A complete and total coverup ensues. Corporate bullying at its worst.
The company hadn’t counted on the fact that Jaime was only 19 years old and that she was a fighter. It took her four years to get her “day” in court.
Have you ever signed a binding arbitration contract? Have you bought a phone, or anything on-line? If you have, you accept their legal contract with a click of the button. Most people don’t take the time to read all that boring, lengthy, usually small print, legal language. And, if you do, you may not find a binding arbitration clause-at first. If it is a phone, especially, the binding arbitration clause comes in a jumble of later mail along with your bill in almost unreadable small print, as a change to your contract. You toss it in the garbage. Many companies do this. You give up your right to sue and you must accept binding arbitration to settle any disagreement you have with the company.
Democracy cannot tolerate such egregious wrongs as the secret Binding Arbitration Clause.