Emotional Intelligence | Punishment

Louise Ogborn
Sexually Assaulted While Working at McDonalds


Louise Ogborn said her parents taught her to obey adults.

It can be assumed that she was taught to be afraid of being punished if she were to disobey her parents or teachers. One day at work she had to make some difficult choices. When her instincts told her to disobey, she was physically punished. She was too afraid of authority to run away from her abuser and seek immediate help. You can read the true, but almost incredible story for yourself and watch the video.

Not only was Louise afraid of disobeying the voice of authority, but so were others in this case.

This is a sad example of what can happen when people are trained to obey out of fear of punishment.

YouTube Documentary Video


In a case more twisted than a serving of supersized twisty fries, there have been nasty goings on at fast food outlets, where staff have been physically abused and humiliated, supposedly on the orders of a 'policeman' on the phone. In the last ten years, managers at over seventy fast food restaurants around the US were called up by someone purporting to be a cop investigating an employee for crimes such as theft. Many were convinced to order young employees to perform dehumanising and humilitating acts, such as stripping and performing sex acts. The last case, November 2005, involved Louise Ogborn, an 18 year-old McDonalds employee, who was imprisoned for two hours and subjected to beatings by her manager, all at the phone request of a supposed policeman. Police eventually traced the hoax calls to a 38-year old employee of Corrections Corporation of America, a company that runs private prisons.[1]

So why did it take so long before any action was taken to end the calls? Sociologist Ester Reiter in Making Fast Food: From the Frying Pan into the Fryer (1991) theorised that: 'obedience... is the most valued trait amongst fast food workers'. Various US media following the story reported that fast food restaurants are an 'easy target'. Once management are told of something that goes beyond the corporation's rule book they would not really know what to do. They would obey the 'voice of authority'.

Dr Stanley Milgram carried out a controversial experiment into human obedience, in the 1960s. '[The]...experiment...[tested]...how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to...The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study...' Obedience to Authority(1974).

McDonalds' response to the final hoax stated that they have safeguards written in place in their training manual. They added '...our greatest asset is our employees. We greatly value their contributions to our brand...' With the indoctrination, culture of obedience and brand loyalty force-fed to employees it's best to remember that it is better, and right, not to do what we are told to. The fact that one of Louise Ogborn's fellow workers refused to participate in her ordeal, even when ordered to by management, shows that even McDonald's training regime cannot totally crush human capacity for sensible disobedience.


She was a high school senior who had just turned 18 -- a churchgoing former Girl Scout who hadn't received a single admonition in her four months working at the McDonald's in Mount Washington.

But when a man who called himself "Officer Scott" called the store on April 9, 2004, and said an employee had been accused of stealing a purse, Louise Ogborn became the suspect.
"He gave me a description of the girl, and Louise was the one who fit it to the T," assistant manager Donna Jean Summers said.
Identifying himself as a police officer, the caller issued an ultimatum: Ogborn could be searched at the store or be arrested, taken to jail and searched there.
"I was bawling my eyes out and literally begging them to take me to the police station because I didn't do anything wrong," Ogborn said later in a deposition. She had taken the $6.35-an-hour position after her mother lost her job. "I couldn't steal -- I'm too honest. I stole a pencil one time from a teacher and I gave it back."
Summers, 51, conceded later that she had never known Ogborn to do a thing dishonest. But she nonetheless led Ogborn to the restaurant's small office, locked the door, and -- following the caller's instructions -- ordered her to remove one item of clothing at a time, until she was naked.
"She was crying," recalled Kim Dockery, 40, another assistant manager, who stood by watching. "A little young girl standing there naked wasn't a pretty sight."
Summers said later that "Officer Scott," who stayed on the telephone, giving his orders, sounded authentic. He said he had "McDonald's corporate" on the line, as well as the store manager, whom he mentioned by name. And she thought she could hear police radios in the background.
Summers shook each garment, placed it in a bag and took the bag away. "I did exactly what he said to do," Summers said of her caller.
It was just after 5 p.m., and for Ogborn, hours of degradation and abuse were just beginning.

Continued at Lousiville Newspaper