Fired After Being Outed as 'Swingers'
PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) - A married couple claim in court that they both lost their jobs after another couple they met on Craigslist, seeking "like-minded couples for consensual, discreet adult encounters," sent revealing photos to their employers, asking, "What kind of people do you employ?"
James P. and Lynette L. Ryan sued Michael R. and Sandra K. McDonnell, in Multnomah County Court.
The Ryans claim they posted an ad on Spokane's Craigslist page looking for "like-minded couples for consensual, discreet adult encounters" in October 2010.
The Ryans say they received a response from a couple whom they later learned were the defendants.
According to the complaint, the McDonnells posed as "Marc and Leah Olsen," using a shared email address and "very lengthy and complex stories" about themselves.
"Marc" said he was an attorney for the federal government, and "Leah" claimed to be a surgical nurse, and they gave the Ryans "no reason to doubt the plausibility of the couple, or their intentions," the complaint states.
After weeks of email exchanges, the couples agreed to arrange a face-to-face meeting, the Ryans say.
"On or about Thursday, October 14, 2010, the couples exchanged emails arranging for a 'date' on the following evening," according to the complaint.
It continues: "The next morning, Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, the plaintiffs' employer received an email from the same email address for 'Leah' and 'Marc,' but this time signed by a 'Megan Wilson,' and asking 'What kind of people do you employ?' with attachments detailing the email exchanges between the parties, and including the pictures of plaintiffs in various forms of undress. Also attached was a nude photo of a woman who is not either of plaintiffs, nor provided to defendants by plaintiffs. Within 48 hours of defendants' email to the plaintiffs' employer, both plaintiffs were fired from their employment as a result of the email exchanges provided by defendants to plaintiffs' employer.
"Following the termination of plaintiff's employment, plaintiffs ascertained the true identity of defendants as Michael R. McDonnell and Sandra K. McDonnell."
The Ryans both worked for the Spokane Civic Theatre, where James was a music director and Lynn worked in the box office, according to report in the Pacific Northwest Inlander, a weekly.
James was given a choice of resignation or termination, and he chose termination after being refused a chance to plead his own case, the Inlander reported.
According to the Inlander report: "'For lack of a better word,' explains James Ryan, 'we're swingers.' Specifically, they solicit other couples for the purpose of consensual husband- and wife-swapping. They've been doing so for the past two and a half years and they think of it as 'dating,' James Ryan says."
According to the Inlander, the theatre's executive director explained her reasoning in a termination letter, which said in part: "The Theatre decided to terminate your employment because you exercised extremely poor judgment by placing into the public domain sexually graphic text and pictures of you and [Lynn] combined with information that permitted an association to the Theatre." (Brackets as in newspaper report.)
The Ryans' attorney Dan Williams told Courthouse News in an interview Wednesday that the Ryans "had the cooperation of the [McDonnells'] employers" to determine the defendants' real identities. He declined to provide any information about McDonnells' employment.
The Ryans seek damages for negligence, fraud, invasion of privacy, emotional distress and interference with contractual relations.
Their attorney Williams is with Brindle, McCaslin & Lee.