Final Defense Bill Includes Franken Anti-Rape Amendment
by Gary Therkildsen*, 12/16/2009
Back in October, I wrote about Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and his praise-worthy amendment to the FY 2010 Defense appropriations bill that would bar the government from contracting with companies who prevent their employees from bringing workplace sexual assault cases to court. The amendment passed easily 68 to 30 – with the thirty senators who voted against the measure receiving a good amount of backlash – but shortly after the vote there were rumors that conferees would strip the amendment from the final bill during reconciliation with the House. Not to fear, though, because according to Sam Stein over at the Huffington Post, the Franken amendment survived, and the final language is "remarkably strong."
An aide to Franken told Stein "the substance of the language 'is unchanged,'" which means the government will not be able to contract with companies that restrict employees from going to court over charges of "assault, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress or negligent hiring practice[s]." Moreover, the Title VII provision of the amendment, which allows an employee to sue not only the alleged perpetrator but also the perpetrator's employer, remains in the bill as well. The amendment applies to all contracts totaling $1million or more.
There is a small loophole in the amendment, but it will be hard for contractors to get through it:
The Franken amendment includes a national security waiver, meaning that the Department of Defense could prevent a case from coming to court if it imperils safety measures. But, for that to happen, the Secretary of Defense would have to "personally explain why the waiver was used to Congress and at that point make it public," the Franken aide explained.
This solid amendment will prevent contractors from carrying out what were some of the most despicable business practices I think a company could foist on a person.
Image by Flickr user Aaron Landry used under a Creative Commons license.