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From the Disputing Blog of Karl Bayer, Victoria VanBuren, and Holly Hayes.
<p>On May 16, 2007, Jones filed a lawsuit against former employer Halliburton/KBR. Jones claims that in July 2005, four days after she arrived to work in Iraq, she was gang raped by seven co-workers. Jones was 20 years old. Halliburton/KBR moved to compel arbitration of Jones’ claims, pursuant to her employment agreement. The district court concluded that Jones’ claims were outside of her employment contract and denied Halliburton/KBR’s motion to compel arbitration. (see Jones v. Halliburton Co., 625 F.Supp. 2d 339 (S.D. Tex. 2008)) In June 2008, Halliburton/KBR appealed.
On September 15, 2009, in Jones v. Halliburton Co. 583 F.3d 228 (5th Cir. 2009), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that Jones’ claims for (1) assault and battery; (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress; (3) negligent hiring, retention and supervision of employees involved in a sexual assault; and (4) false imprisonment are not related to Jones’ employment contract and refused to compel arbitration. (the case summary is here)
Jones’ case prompted the U.S. Congress to pass the “Franken Amendment” to H.R. 3326, which bars funds to defense contractors who require workers to arbitrate “any claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention.” (Senator Franken’s video is here) H.R. 3326 was signed by President Barack Obama and became law on December 19, 2009. (P.L. 111-118 is here; major actions are here)
On January 19, 2010, KBR had filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. (cert is here) (read more here) However, on March 11, 2010 KBR withdrew its petition citing the Franken Amendment. (read more here)
On May 5, 2011 Senator Franken introduced the Arbitration Fairness Act of 2011. If passed, the Act would ban mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases. (read more here)
The civil trial for Jones’ claims finally began in the Southern District of Texas on June 14, 2011. (read more here) Jones took the stand on June 16th to tell her story. (read more here) The trial is expected to last at least up to four weeks.
Jones is featured in the new HBO documentary “Hot Coffee,” which will air on June 27 at 8 pm CST.
While in law school, Victoria was a Graduate Research Assistant for Professor John S. Dzienkowski, from The University of Texas at Austin. She was responsible for selecting cases for inclusion in the textbook International Petroleum Transactions. Victoria was particularly involved in researching the areas of international business litigation and arbitration. She also performed extensive research on political and economic risks within the context of international licensing agreements.
Having lived and studied in Mexico, Canada, and the U.S., Victoria brings a unique perspective to Karl Bayer. Right after high school, Victoria moved to Canada to study English and French. Born and raised in Mexico, she is a native Spanish speaker and a graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology (Instituto Tecnologico y the Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), where she concentrated in Physics and Mathematics.
- American Bar Association, Young Lawyers
- American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA)
- Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN)
- National Hispanic Bar Association (NHBA)
- State Bar of Texas, Intellectual Property
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