Strip Search Hoax Case Questions McDonald's Role

September 25, 2006 ( - A trial regarding an employee who was strip searched at the command of a prank caller questions what responsibility the McDonald's and McDonald's franchisee had in the incident.

The case before the 11 th US Circuit Court of Appeals involves a 19-year-old former McDonald’s employee who said she was called into the bathroom of the restaurant in which she worked by her supervisor and told she could either be strip searched by the supervisor or by the police, according to the Fulton County Daily Report. The supervisor had received a call from a man claiming to be the director for operations at GWD Management, the McDonald’s franchisee.

The caller told the supervisor that the female was involved with drugs and the police were on the way to the restaurant, according to the news report. The supervisor was ordered to get the oldest male employee and put him on the telephone. That employee was then instructed to conduct a body cavity search.

The argument before the court was that McDonald’s and GWD knew of similar incidents yet failed to respond. A McDonald’s regional security manager who had served GWD’s region for a period of time testified in a deposition that McDonald’s warned GWD of the strip-search scam more than once, according to the news report. The court also heard that, since November 2001, the McDonald’s training manual has prohibited strip searches of McDonald’s employees or customers.

However, GWD said it did not receive any of the the warnings. While the judge dismissed several of the plaintiff’s claims against GWD, including a claim of sexual discrimination, he let stand claims of intrusion upon seclusion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment.

McDonald’s argued that it did not have a duty to warn employees, as it passed information to GWD. The 11 th Circuit held that the plaintiff was dependent on GWD passing along the warnings. McDonald’s motion for summary judgment was granted.