A McDonald’s worker, who was strip-searched and sexually abused by a man masquerading as a cop got a $6.1 million jury award in her lawsuit against the fast food giant. According to a news article in The State , Louise Ogborn had filed a $200-million lawsuit against her employer alleging that McDonald’s officials had not warned her and other employees about the hoax caller, who had done the same at other chain restaurants.
Ogborn, who is now 21, was only 18 years old when the incident occurred. According to the article, the jury awarded her $5 million in punitive damages and about $1.1 million in compensatory damages. The decision came after a four-week trial and 13 hours of deliberations, the article said. Ogborn’s attorney maintained that the company was negligent although attorneys for McDonald’s argued that the company could not be held liable for what happened to Ogborn. Company officials are reportedly mulling over an appeal. In deciding on the compensatory damages, jurors said both McDonald’s and the unnamed caller were liable.
According to the lawsuit described in the article, Ogborn was held for three and a half hours during the search, which was set off by a caller who told the store manager that a young female employee had stolen something from a customer and needed to be strip-searched. Donna Summers, a store manager at the time, carried out the orders of the caller, who claimed to be a police officer. Ogborn was not only forced to take off her clothes, but endured a strip search and was forced perform sexual acts – all caught on the store’s surveillance video, which the jury watched during the trial.
Clearly, this was a traumatic experience for the young woman, who did nothing wrong that day, but show up to work. Employers must be held responsible for their lack of attention to policies and procedures in the workplace. Every employee must be made aware that they are under no circumstances required to submit to acts that seem suspicious, out of the ordinary or as in this case, outright inappropriate. In this case, the jury sympathized with the employees because they did what they were told, possibly for fear of losing their jobs.
It’s hard to imagine the emotional distress this young woman must’ve suffered during her lengthy ordeal. Jurors provided her with fair compensation for her emotional injuries, pain and suffering.