Sex Worker, Banned From LinkedIn, Cries 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.
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."
"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."
"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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.more...