***The uncut version of the following article can be found at http://matthewscottauthor.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/compliance-or-confirmation-of-our-lack-of-faith-in-humanity/***
This movie has stuck in the back of my mind for the past few days, not so much from it being a quality film (though it was reasonably good), but because it was eerily accurate. If this wasn’t a story, I doubt it would’ve been made for “lack of believable writing.” To summarize the tale – and spoilers don’t matter, for the draw of the movie is the madness of it all – a fast food restaurant gets a call from someone claiming to be a police officer with a claim an employee stole money from someone. Her belongings are searched, followed by her whole body. Yes, a (female) manager strip searched an employee at the behest of a male voice on the phone. The girl was held in an office, naked, while they allegedly waited for the police. To add motivation, the caller claims he’s been speaking to a regional manager and gives a name, also claiming the girl’s house is under investigation due to drug crimes.
Where the movie makes a mistake is by showing those who commit the actions against the employee as victims, which include the manager’s fiancé. Anyway, after the initial search, a male employee is called in to watch the girl…as requested by the caller. She is refused her clothes, since “there may be traces of drugs on them.” An apron is given and a male employee is called in from the counter to keep an eye on her, but he leaves due to extreme discomfort with the situation. Keep in mind, the manager is committing false imprisonment, a felony, by detaining a worker herself. Her fiancé is then ordered in to keep watch instead. Further abuses of a sexual nature ensue, but you'll have to click to link up top to read the uncut descriptions. Once done with his deeds, the man decides he feels guilty and leaves, calling a friend and telling him he “did something really bad.” I almost believe it must’ve been bragging in real life, because I have a hard time fathoming he’d randomly grow a conscience after being in there such an extended length of time. Feel free to disagree.
Finally, a janitor comes in to keep watch, because the manager demands it. Guess what? He gets mad and confronts the manager, who finally calls her higher-up and realizes he’s been sick all day. There was no investigation. They’d tormented a high school student for 3.5 hours. A police station was .25 miles from the restaurant.
The outcome? The MANAGER sued McDonald’s and got $400,000, appealed down from $1,100,000, because they didn’t warn her about the scam/train her on what to do. The victim sued McDonald’s, getting $1.1 for damages and expenses in the end. The fiancé got 5 years in prison. McDonald’s also paid $2.4 million in legal fees. The caller was acquitted of all charges, though he was identified by tracing the store the phone card used was purchased from and comparing images of him buying the cards at multiple stores. He claimed to have never bought the cards, but they were found in his home and used to call several restaurants across the country.
My thoughts: Several cases have happened in the USA similar to this, including strip searches at Applebee’s, body cavity searches in other McDonald’s restaurants, the strip search of a 14-year-old in an Alaska (also forced to commit lewd acts) Taco Bell, then a 17-year old at another Taco Bell and a 19-year old at Winn-Dixie. The film alleges over 70 such incidents have happened…I’d assume over about a decade.
Personally, I don’t see how it’s primarily the companies at fault, though I deeply disrespect them for hiring people with limited HR knowledge and no clue what the law is. Not training them is an issue as well, but when they strip search and check the cavities of workers, it strikes me as either a power trip or something overtly sexual – the people committed crimes as individuals, even if tricked into it. False imprisonment alone is a crime and the managers should know they can’t detain their workers, not for a crime that they’re merely suspected of AND without a police officer on the way. They also didn’t ask for badge numbers to confirm the identity of someone making suspicious calls. The manager in the main case mentioned sure as hell should not have been given money, but rather a jail sentence for false imprisonment and being an accessory to rape (by having the girl strip in the first place, leading to a sex crime). The only fitting sentence was the fiancé in the story, given his 5-year incarceration. I also disagree with the caller being acquitted. It was for “lack of evidence,” though he was the one who purchased the card, had the voice of the caller, and had possession of cards used in a similar fashion. His home also had several fake police uniforms in it. Sure, “maybe” someone else made the calls, but that’s like saying I could get a phone card, threaten a bank employee into leaving money somewhere, have me filmed taking it whilst wearing a mask, then have the money and card purchase traced to my home, yet not get in trouble because nothing explicitly showed me committing the crime. Yet people have been found guilty of murders they lacked the skill and strength to commit, plus had no evidence of guilt rather than someone pointing at them.
Seriously, it’s disappointing.
Does anyone here know of any films in a similar vein?
Matthew Scott Surprenant's personal blog and bookstore can be found at http://matthewscottauthor.wordpress.com .