Feb. 6, 2008— -- A mother of five who says she was sexually harassed and assaulted while working for Halliburton/KBR in Iraq is headed for a secretive arbitration process rather than being able to present her case in open court.
A judge in Texas has ruled that Tracy Barker's case will be heard in arbitration, according to the terms of her initial employment contract.
Barker says that while in Iraq she was constantly propositioned by her superior, threatened and isolated after she reported an incident of sexual assault.
Barker's attorneys had argued that Halliburton/KBR had created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at their camps and that sort of condition is not the type of dispute that she could have expected to be within the scope of an arbitration provision.
District Judge Gray Miller, however, wrote in his order that "whether it is wise to send this type of claim to arbitration is not a question for this court to decide."
"Sadly," wrote Judge Miller, "sexual harassment, up to and including sexual assault, is a reality in today's workplace."
Barker says it was a reality at Halliburton/KBR. From the moment she arrived at the Halliburton/KBR camp in Basra, Iraq, she says she was treated like a sex object.
"When I arrived in Basra, there were about five men that worked on the camp for the company I worked for and they were waiting for me," Barker told ABC News in an exclusive interview that aired last December.
"I was told they wanted to see what I look like," she said, "to make sure I was decent looking before they approved my transfer."