…Where was I? Yes, the Franken Amendment. It didn’t rewrite any contracts. It didn’t invalidate any laws. It simply said, no government contracts (that is, none of my money and your money) to companies that force their employees to sign binding arbitration agreements in which the employee had to waive the right to sue on for claims of sexual assault, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent hiring, retention and supervision. For those of you that don’t know, the latter three are claims you would see when, say, an employer hires someone to be a delivery person who has 8 DUIs and then one day gets drunk and mows down a bunch of people while driving the company van. The amendment also covers civil rights claims of workplace discrimination.
And, as most of us know, this Amendment comes in the wake of the the gang rape and false imprisonment of 19 year old Jamie Lee Jones. Who, though she may eventually be able to get redress in court, was forced into arbitration by her employer. Notably, DOD said they couldn’t prosecute the perpetrators because of the arbitration provisions.
The way I see it is that there are 3 groups of people who have some legitimate interest in this legislation. First, women. Women specifically who work in these positions have very damn obvious safety and security issues vested, as well as Constitutional rights against discrimination and, well, the right to not get raped and/or the power to bring suit against those who are responsible for the rape (and please, don’t give me a bunch of shit about why should the employer be responsible for rape. They are, and if you have a problem with that, maybe you should work for Halliburton). Women in general also have vested liberty and property interests in this bill, as the arbitration provisions are clearly discriminatory in effect and it would really be nice to know that Congress gives a fuck about this and is sending a message to employers that this shit is NOT okay.
Who else has a dog in this fight? Businesses. Businesses have financial interests in this bill because, as I mentioned above, businesses like arbitration because, long story short, it puts/leaves more money in their pockets. Who else? Legislators, obviously, have professional (non-personal) interests involved. Likewise, legal professionals have indirect and personally neutral interests at play, because they practice in these areas and need to know the laws, but unless they are females or own/run businesses in addition to the lawyering, they don’t have vested personal interests. And I am sure there are probably some more folks with indirect and non-personal interests in this bill, but you get my point. While women, businesses, legislators, and lawyers certainly constitute a large number of folks, there are still a LOT of people that do not truly have any actual interest in this bill.
Which FINALLY brings me to my point. If you don’t have a direct and personal interest in this bill – specifically, if you are not a person whose rights are directly impacted by this sort of shit – how absolutely lucky you are. Do you realize how nice it would be to just be able to go to work and live your life, without having to worry about all the “other” shit?
How awesome is it to know that you will get hired when you are qualified? To get paid more than other people doing the same work? How great to know that if you just do your job, you will be a valued employee and get raises and promotions based on your merit, and will mentored and will move up the ladder quickly. You will always be invited to events with the bosses, no one will make crude jokes about you to your clients or your co-workers, and you don’t have to worry about getting raped on the job.
I am not saying you don’t deserve this – hell, we all deserve this. No one is trying to take anything away from you.
I am just saying that having a little care for those who are NOT so lucky might be the decent thing to do. When you form an opinion on an issue that directly affects the rights of other people, and does not do ANYthing to threaten your own well-insulated rights, at least take the time to learn about the situation. Because, you see, while you have the luxury to sit back and pontificate on the “abstracts” of these issues, many people do not. These people are ACTUALLY affected by your opinion. Really, truly, fucked-up affected by it. You – your opinions and your votes – can either take things away from REAL people or keep them out of their reach, or you can help them get the actual, substantive meaningful rights THAT YOU ALREADY HAVE.
This isn’t just-sittin-around-havin-a-beer-and-talkin-smart about nebulous potentials. What you say and think and talk about and vote for affects other people. If you have taken the time to educate yourself on the matter, and still feel – for whatever reason – that you must come down on the other side, then that is certainly your right. But know that you have the luxury to think about such things as semantics, sub-contractors, trial attorney rates, and a whole host of other nitpicky, substantively meaningless things because YOU don’t have to worry about getting sexually harassed or raped at work.
And it costs you NOTHING to share this luxury with everyone.