This arbitration settlement against KBR seems a little light.

Many people have written about the lawlessness and chaos that existed under American rule in Iraq. The book Fiasco by Thomas Ricks chronicles one mistake after another that led to the lawlessness that we saw for almost five years. There are many other books (including Naomi Klein’s, Shock Doctrine) and magazine articles which document the chaos. For some reason, I thought the chaos stopped once you got inside places that were controlled by Americans. This obviously wasn’t true. An atmosphere of the wild West where every man had to think for and by only himself seems somewhat pervasive from Baghdad to Basra.

Tracy Barker can be thought of as the other woman who filed a lawsuit against Kellogg Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Jamie Leigh Jones has testified before Congress about her ordeal in which she was locked in some sort of shipping container after her rape. Ms. Barker tried to take her case to court stating that KBR had created an atmosphere where “boys will be boys.” Her story reads like a bad 1940s pornographic, male chauvinist novel. Pornography was posted on the walls. You have the lecherous boss who said he would be happy to protect her if she would sleep with him. Ms. Barker’s case was thrown out of court because she signed a contract which stated that she could not take her employer to court. In what can only be described as minor vindication, she won a $2.93 million settlement in arbitration against KBR.

It seems to me that these large corporations only understand one thing — money. $2.93 million is what they pay one minor executive. $293 million. Now, that would get their attention. We need to get their attention. Corporations have a responsibility. If they’re going to hire Americans and expect American productivity and work ethic, they need to provide an environment in which Americans can work. This means American women and men. There’s simply no excuse.

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Errington C. Thompson, MD

Dr. Thompson is a surgeon, scholar, full-time sports fan and part-time political activist. He is active in a number of community projects and initiatives. Through medicine, he strives to improve the physical health of all he treats.


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