Sen. Al Franken gave a lot of his Republican colleagues hives this fall when he authored an amendment to the Pentagon's 2010 appropriations bill that barred defense contractors from requiring employees to seek arbitration in cases when they have been sexually assaulted while on the job. He said he wanted to protect victims of rape. GOP senators who opposed the measure said he just wanted to tar them as pro-rape.
Franken's amendment became law over the weekend, when President Barack Obama signed the appropriations bill.
Franken said he was moved to act after hearing the story of Jamie Leigh Jones, a KBR employee who alleges she was gang-raped by others in the company while posted in Baghdad, and then locked in a shipping container when she tried to report the attack.Terms of her employment required that she submit to arbitration in the case; she couldn't sue for workplace discrimination or sexual assault.
Conservatives called Franken's amendment a craven sop to trial lawyers and another case of the federal government meddling in matters of private enterprise. There's a good explanation of their unhappiness here.
"Today is a great victory for victims of assault and discrimination who deserve their rightful day in court," Franken said in a statement. "Too often, powerful interests silence the voices of folks like Jamie Leigh Jones. But because of her courage and her strength in speaking out, we're one step closer to saying no one else will have to suffer through what she did."