HR Strange But True!
March 25, 2004

More strange news from the normally staid Wall Street Journal: "The restaurant industry is struggling to get in front of a bizarre hoax in which outlet managers across the country have been duped into strip-searching employees or customers."

The hoax requires: 1) a manager gullible enough to follow a strange caller's order to make someone disrobe and submit to a humiliating search for "drugs" or "stolen money," and 2) someone gullible enough-or frightened enough-to succumb to such an examination.

Apparently, there's no shortage of either. Investigators tell the Journal there have been dozens of such cases since 1999, involving Burger King, Wendy's, Applebee's, and others. They've been reported in Massachusetts, South Dakota, Indiana, Utah, and Ohio. The managers and the victims have been male and female.

Investigators add that they've begun linking the cases and believe the hoaxes are the work of a single person calling from North Florida public telephones, using a phone card. But in the meantime, it's sometimes the employers of the duped managers who are being held liable:

  • A Burger King franchise in Odessa, Texas, paid $35,000 last summer to settle a civil suit filed by an employee who complained of being forced to submit to a strip search by a male manager who received a call. The manager was charged with illegal restraint and fined $500, according to the Journal.

  • Wendy's International Inc. disclosed recently that it has been hit with four lawsuits by former workers of company-owned outlets in the Boston area. The managers, acting on calls last February from a man posing as a police officer, ordered the workers to submit to strip searches for allegedly stolen money.


Source: The Wall Street Journal

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