Saturday, December 09, 2006

There have been a couple responses to something I wrote on the Louise Ogborn case from last week. Here's my response to those responses.

Louise Ogborn was horribly mistreated and wrongfully imprisoned, and the people who did what they did to her deserve all the prison time they get.

But to file a $200M lawsuit against McDonald's for failing to train its managers properly is ridiculous. Again, I ask -- if it's necessary to tell your management staff not to listen to unknown voices on the phone who tell them to imprison, strip search and sexually assault other employees, then what else do you have include in the training? Don't light one another's hair on fire? Defecating in the shake machine is a no-no? If a customer asks for no pickles, you shouldn't beat him to death with a bag of frozen fries?

By the way, here's the exact language from the McDonald's training manual (at least according to McDonald's):

"Under no circumstances should any member of McDonald's management or staff conduct a search of any employee or customer's person. No legitimate law enforcement agency would ever ask you to conduct such a search. If someone claiming to be a law enforcement official requests that a manager or employee conduct a strip search, or any search of another employee or customer, try to obtain the name and phone number of the caller and immediately call your local police department to report the incident. Contact your owner/operator or security manager about the incident as soon as possible. If you believe you have reason to search an employee's personal possessions (for example, a backpack, purse, etc.), contact your owner/operator or security manager for guidance beforehand. You should never detain any employee or other individual from leaving the premises against his or her will."

Sounds pretty clear to me, and McDonald's has also been sending updates to its franchises on the hoax calls. However, if you read this Courier-Journal story, you'll find that a McDonald's executive admitted it didn't appear word filtered down to the employees. I'm not sure what that means.

There's more confusion. According to the original 20/20 story, the assistant manager closes the door and locks it, then gives Ogborn a choice -- submit to a search or go to the local police station. But according to the Courier-Journal story from above, Ogborn begged to be taken the police station. So, which is it?

I know the argument NSLC is making, and it's a valid one -- you don't know what you would do in a given situation until you're actually in it yourself. And yes, I'm aware the managers were larger than her. But at what point do you fight back? There was no threat to her life, no weapon.

From my personal viewpoint, I know I would have been screaming and attempting to go out at the point the assistant manager locked the door. There's absolutely no reason an employee (or anyone, for that matter) should be locked into an office, least of all in a McDonald's. An employee who doesn't grasp that fact, well, I don't know if I can get a grip on where they're coming from.

People point to the Milgram experiments as proof of many people's willingness to accept meekly what they are told by authority figures. Fine -- but if you aren't going to protect yourself in a situation that appears to have no life-threatening overtones, how much sympathy can you then expect after the fact?

It comes down to a question of how much blame you're willing to assign someone for a situation in which they never should have been. While I'm gladly willing to throw the assistant manager and her (now former) fiance under the prison bus, I also don't think it's unreasonable to expect someone to defend themselves under the circumstances Ogborn was in.


MizzCarol said...

I want to comment yet again. 1. McDonalds very well does have a training manual. They just don't give them to employees. 2. She was NOT given a choice by Donna Summers. Donna Summers/Caller gave her NO CHOICE. 3. I am sure as a male you would have been kicking and screaming but you are not a 90 pound barely 18 year old high school senior and by the time Nix came in, she was on her way 'out' meaning that the situation was so surreal she dissassociated. 4. The lawsuit did not begin as a $200 million dollar lawsuit, in fact, there was no 'price tag' on it. What has happened SINCE April 9th caused her new attorney to seek this amount and we all know full well the chances of that are slim. But whatever amount she wins (and she will) most likely will be appealed and reduced. How much would it take for your daughter or wife or sister or mother to go through this hell? How much damage do you think this has caused in her family? Her friends? Lives of people who did not know her on April 9?
I worked on this case for 18 months and I have seen the unedited uncut version - and I still feel sick over it. What little you saw told a tiny part of the tale, and you are hearing sound bites, reading things taken out of context. C'mon. You are better than this.

Anonymous said...

I have said this elsewhere and I will say it again here, anyone who thinks Ogborn could have prevented this is in denial. And that's exactly where the problem is for those who think the victim could have prevented the crime.

When we are confronted with something that we don't want to accept (I have seen this reaction with people present at serious accidents) we try to pretend we are back to the moment before the event and only the victim is responsible for the event.

Ogborn was confronted with an evolving event that escalated beyond her worst nightmares. She never expected her supervisors to sell her out until it was too late. Who told her that after her clothes were inspected she would not get them back? That they would be locked in someone else's car outside? Who told her she would only be left with an apron to cover herself until the police arrived?

And why is she is standing for over 3 1/2 hours on a cold concrete floor barefooted when her shoes are sitting beside her on a box? And why is Summers contradicting everything she says? Summers assures ABC that Ogborn was "completely covered" by the apron she was given to cover herself. Really? If that is what Summers considers completely covered why was Summers wearing a long sleeve undershirt under her short sleeved uniform shirt? It is said that Ogborn was so cold when they finally realized the whole thing was a hoax that she was shaking. Then, after 3 1/2 hours, someone suddenly finds a blanket.

Why are we blaming the victim here? If the victim had fought harder, nothing would have happened? Right? So why was she subjected to a ten minute beating for not addressing her jailer as "sir"? Except for the survelience tape we don't really know what happened and unfortunately it did not record the dialogue of the event. And apparently there is no record of the telephone conversation that dominated this whole event. It's Ogborn's word against that of her captors. This was McDonald's Abu Graib.


Brian said...

Blaming Louise for her rape is a fairly typical example of people's lack of empathy and understanding. Since you have only seen and heard fragments of this case, it is perhaps understandable that you have swallowed the company line.

To put it bluntly, you are wrong. Louise did NOT consent to a strip search and was forcibly restrained by the managers and prevented from leaving the office. You don't seem to understand that McDonalds employees at a company owned restaurant forced Louise to strip.

And what if, as you contend, Louise would have fought back? I tell you what those gutless morally bankrupt cowards called Donna and Kim would have done. They would have pinned Louise to the floor and stripped her anyway. That's what.

Don't think so? Then why has McDonalds covered up over 50 previous assaults and at least 4 other lawsuits? Why did all the company personal in the attack change their stories and blame Louise? Why has McDonalds harassed Louise and her family and friends for the last three and a half years?

Because, with support from posts such as yours, they hope that the jury will be swayed to their side.

If you would like to read a post from someone who supports Louise, rather than blame her, I invite you to come read my recent post. Just scroll down under the 9/11 tribute post.

Anonymous said...

Personally I think they were making a porno-flick--but even if Louise is pure as the wind-riven snow, hey...things are tough all over. I say give her free Big Macs for life.

The Man

Anonymous said...

Also, McDonalds has tried all sorts of intimeidation/smear tactics, such as a subpoena server who impersonated law enforcement while serving documents to a friend, Misty McMillen (just google it and you'll find links to news stories about the guy's arres), trying to persuade Nix to say it was consensual, that she was in collusion with the hoaxer, etc. Makes me want to punch a clown just for the heck of it. Summers, Stewart & Nix are slimebags who should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It's enough to make one embrace vigilante justice.