Sex Worker, Banned From LinkedIn, Cries Discrimination

Sex worker Madison GrahamUsed by 93 percent of companies to recruit, LinkedIn is the most popular professional network in the world. But one profession is categorically excluded from it: sex workers. In its updated user agreement, LinkedIn explicitly bars all sex workers, even legal ones, from its site. One prostitute in Nevada calls the new policy "discrimination."

"I pay taxes on my money," says Madison Graham, 41, who's been working legally for Dennis Hof's Love Ranch North in Carson City for about 18 months. She resents being lumped together with criminals. "I'm an LLC. I have a business account at Wells Fargo. I can get a mortgage."

She adds, "Whether you morally approve of it or not, I'm a small business. I'm a small business owner. As long as I'm not being lewd or inappropriate [on the site], I should be afforded the same respect as other small businesses."

LinkedIn's new user agreement, rolled out last week, explicitly prohibits sex workers, even those working legally in Nevada, such as the prostitutes at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch North.

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Graham joined LinkedIn three years ago when a client of hers sent her an invitation. Graham's profile is discreet. She's listed as an "entertainer," with interests including yoga, horseback riding and Egyptology, and just 11 connections. She says that she never solicits, and feels like the owners of LinkedIn are making a moral judgment on her job.

"It's the principle. I feel discriminated against," she said. "You think I'm a dirty whore? What if they don't like black people? It's a civil rights issue to me."

LinkedIn has shrugged off such complaints. "There really is not story here," spokesman Doug Madey told The Daily Dot, a news site about the Internet. "Here's the reality -- we have always prohibited these kinds of profiles. The recent change in our UA just makes it more explicitly prohibited."

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But it's only been since the new policy that Graham's boss, Dennis Hof, who owns the brothel in Carson City, has had his profile blocked. With all the regulations and work involved in being a legal prostitute in Nevada, Graham, who is also a college-educated registered nurse, says it's unfair that she's being treated like a criminal. She had to be fingerprinted and undergo a thorough federal background check and an STD screening. As an independent contractor at a brothel, Graham must use a condom for oral and penetrative sex, receive a clean bill of health each week, and submit 50 percent of her fees to the brothel owners.

"Take down the illegal gamblers, the prostitution rings, the drug dealers," she says. "But don't put me as a legal person in the same category. I'm not a criminal. They're punishing me when I'm not doing anything illegal."

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The space for Graham online is getting smaller. Already she says that her posts are sometimes berated or deleted on sites like The Erotic Review and My Red Book, escort review sites dominated by illegal sex workers. That she can understand, she says. But a mainstream website barring legal professions strikes her as fundamentally dangerous.

"If I own LinkedIn, and I like CNN, I'm going to let their reporters have profiles," she says as an analogy. "But I won't let Fox News have profiles because I hate them."

"They want to be some moral arbiter," she adds. "But this country is about freedom." On the bright side, since the news broke, Graham has seen a dramatic uptick in visitors to her LinkedIn profile.




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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Angela J Shirley

Well hats off to LinkedIn for banning her. It is about time someone did. I am so over porn popping up everywhere online and on TV. Makes me cringe about my future grandchildren and being exposed at an early age to this. I am not one to judge as everyone is grown, but I feel I should have the "option" of not having to read these people's material or see their nasty pictures. Then society is wondering why there is so much weird stuff going on in schools. Yes, kids are exposed to too much weirdness these days. This article brought a smile to my face. Thanks for letting us know the GOOD news!!! Yay LinkedIn... http://rockportinstitute.com/

December 12 2013 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
↠Ally James❥

Discrimination is black & white. We are given the opportunity to do it legally and safe verses being in a reckless, harmful environment. I don't like a lot of things people do, but it doesn't mean they should be treated poorly. I'm sure most of you know prostitutes and your unaware of the fact that they might have prostituted in their life. Your opinion would probably change. Marilyn Monroe was a BIG time prostitute and I catch a lot of people that glorify her, as hooker haters as well. ;) Hypocrites. You don't have to be pro prostitute, but you don't have to be pro discrimination either. If anything we should be respected for doing it the right way and getting tested weekly as well as paying our ******* taxes! I don't hoe for drugs, drinking, or clothes. I do it to support my family and make enough money to move on and get out of the industry. They even set us up with private bankers and help with building our future for when we decide to leave.

May 22 2013 at 11:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Bill

Legalize prostitution and save MANkind!

May 22 2013 at 1:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
thecabinrocks

theres a reason why prostitution is illegal in most of the civilized world Madison! it keeps people like you who take advantage of the freedoms they have in this country from wrecking themselves physically and psychologically. the founding fathers new this. smart and compassionate people have always known this throughout history. thats why its frowned apon. You may have convinced yourself that its alright and not destructive in any way, but most women involved in this world are emotionally and physically devastated.

May 22 2013 at 12:46 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to thecabinrocks's comment
SYN-Drome.

Kinda like how we've convinced ourselves that Gay marriage is fine and in a month or so the Supreme Court will come back and say that it is legal...if we legalize one thing, we're going to legalize many others...that's just how the Dominos like to fall.

May 22 2013 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
↠Ally James❥

Uuuuummm. Yeah the ones that are doing it illegally! Guess what? It's not legal in every state BUT Nevada, it's obvious women will do it anyways so why not legalize it and get down to the real criminals aka the pimps. You know how much money is not being reported to the IRS because it is not legalized?? After all the sex industry is where all the money is. Those same people are probably collecting welfare checks too!

May 22 2013 at 11:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Marvin

I wonder what the politicians in WASHINGTON are going to do if they can't buy nookie anymore ? You folks ever hard the term "POLITICAL *****" ?

May 22 2013 at 12:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
magus47

Never understood why prostitution is illegal. No one forces them to do it and it certainly can't be considered explotation of women. After all at the end who gets the money. It is certainly a MUCH more respectable and honest honest profession than that of a lawyer, congressman or senator. I mean you can chose to get screwed by a hooker which you don't a choce with the others. And in the end you feel good getting screwed by a prostitue. How many of us feel good getting the shaft from politicians.

May 22 2013 at 12:14 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Marvin

WOMEN HAVE GIVEN AWAY MORE THAN THEY HAVE SOLD. TAX IT, HAVE MONTHLY HEALTH SCREENS AND LET THEM SELL ALL THEY CAN . AT LEAST THEY ARE NOT ASKING FOR WELFARE. ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS MAKE A LIVING WITH WHAT POLITICIANS ARE BUYING IN EVERY STATE. GO FOR IT LADIES.

May 22 2013 at 12:00 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Bill

Why do people discriminate against American heroines? These women provide a valuable service!

May 22 2013 at 11:43 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Wealth Builder

Why is it that every time someone gets upset about not being able to do something they want to do, they bring up "what about black people?" Really, I fail to understand what black people's civil rights have to do with her wanting to promote her prostitutioin business. I'm glad LinkedIn doesn't want this crap on their site. I don't feel sorry for her. There are plenty of other areas for her to promote her business. And if she only has 11 connections those are just her johns anyway.

May 22 2013 at 11:26 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Wealth Builder's comment
jbiggs01

Since 1968 the race card has always played well for people to get an upper edge on something. It will be played until it starts to damage the peoples cause.It's starting to happen now but not to the point where it would be better to judge a person on their character, and not the color of their skin. like one great man stated

May 22 2013 at 11:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marlon John

I agree with her that if she has complied with the law she should be able to have a profile. It is not being rude or lewd and it is just purely to advertise and get her name out there. As long as she is not booking appointments or conducting business on her profile then she should be okay. I am sure they do not like this sort of business at LinknIn but I am sure you would be hard pressed to find any of the executives that has not visited a strip club or massage parlor at one point or another in there life time which are all part of the sex industry. Ms. Graham just so happens to do it in a manner that is legal and is regulated. I get LinknIn is concerned due to the fact of the heat and backlash craigslist got some years back and rightfully so but she is a legal worker and is under some sort of monitoring and regulation and that certainly makes it a whole heck of a lot better than walking the streets or other means. As far as morally right or wrong that is another debate but as far as her getting on the site she should be. Either they let her or the state of NV ban prostitution.
On the flip side one can make an argument that everything is not for everyone and that this site is not the site for her maybe there needs to be a site created for what is view by many as social misfits. Like pot growers and sellers in the state of CA and prostitutes in NV and who know what other social unacceptable occupations or activity that has been accepted or passed into law by one or two states. Just playing devils advocate.

May 22 2013 at 11:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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