Mark de Bernardo, the executive director of the Council for Employment Law Equity defended the use of arbitration as "decisively in the employees' best interests," and as an inexpensive alternative to jury trials.
"[Alternative Dispute Resolution] is an effective tool for both management and employees," de Bernardo said. "The opponents of arbitration have simply not demonstrated that the drastic, sweeping changes they seek to enact are necessary and/or appropriate. To the contrary, for the average employee, the elimination of arbitration will do more harm than good."
Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), who sponsored the amendment, clashed repeatedly with de Bernardo, questioning how arbitration could possibly help someone in Jones' situation.
"This took place in Iraq, at that time she had no recourse, sir!" Franken roared. "She has not had her day in court, she has litigated for four years to have her day in court. She was drugged, she was raped, and she had to have reconstructive surgery. If that's a better workplace, what was the workplace like before?"
The Senate is expected to vote later on the larger defense bill, to which Franken's sponsored amendment is attached.
Jones recalls standing outside her barracks in the Green Zone with several Halliburton firefighters when one male offered her a drink, saying she shouldn't worry because he had "saved all his ruffies for Dubai."
"I naively took the drink. I remember nothing after taking a couple of sips," Jones testified today. "When I awoke in my room the next morning, I was naked, I was sore, I was bruised and I was bleeding. I was groggy and confused and didn't know why."
Jones, suspecting she had been raped, went to the bathroom to assess her injuries. When she returned, she says she found one of her attackers still there, lying naked in her bed. After reporting the incident to a KBR operations coordinator, Jones was taken to a Combat Army Support Hospital, where she says a rape kit revealed she had been raped vaginally and anally by multiple perpetrators.
Jones says she was then locked in a shipping container with two armed guards stationed outside and not permitted to leave or contact anyone. Eventually she convinced a guard to let her use his cell phone. She called her father, who contacted Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), who then dispatched State Department officials to ensure her release and return to the U.S.
But she says her suffering was far from over.
Last month the Fifth Circuit ruled that four of Jones's claims against Halliburton related to the alleged rape were not covered by the clause in her employment contract. However, her claims of discrimination under Title VII are still being forced into an arbitration proceeding.
"It's an injustice for me, for all future daughters, sisters, wives who don't know. It's a big injustice," Jones says. "Four years to fight to get in court is not a day in court."
Megan Chuchmach contributed to this report.