ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A former manager at an Orangeburg County McDonald's says she is seriously considering suing the fast food giant.
On Tuesday, a jury found her not guilty on charges she stole $2.89 from the cash drawer.
Denise Hickson says she never saw it coming. Sitting next to her attorney, she tells us how it all started when a blonde customer placed an order with her at the restaurant in August 2008.
"Just thought she was a regular customer who was coming in the store," said Hickson.
"Strangely enough, the customer, Ms. Dell, was a corporate employee of McDonald's," said Hickson's attorney Carl B. Grant. "Ms. Dell became suspicious and she thought Ms. Hickson was giving her an inappropriate, undeserving employee discount."
In surveillance video, Grant says you can see the customer reach behind the register and grab a receipt. On it you see an employee discount.
"The amount in question being $2.89," said Grant.
That was enough for the customer to alert McDonald's. Problem is, Hickson says the receipt belonged to an actual McDonald's employee who gets a discount.
Five days after the transaction, Hickson says she was blindsided at work, taken in the back and handcuffed by officers. Her charge? Breach of trust.
"Let's at least talk to her and find out what's going on. They didn't do that," said Grant. "Instead they had her arrested and hauled out. Embarrassing and humiliating."
The single mother of two lost her job.
She says she became depressed and traumatized by the whole experience. This week, her case went to court where it took the jury 10 minutes to find her not guilty.
"Even if Ronald McDonald was on this jury, he would find her not guilty," said Grant.
But that may not be the end of Hickson's search for justice.
"Absolutely thinking about filing a civil lawsuit against McDonalds because she deserves to be compensated for what she went through," said Grant.
"No matter how big the corporation is, even Ronald McDonald can't stomp on your rights," said Hickson.
We tried to find out why McDonald's did not speak with Hickson about the allegations before police got involved. We were sent a statement from the franchise owner in Orangeburg.
Dewall Waters says he has believed all along Hickson violated his employment policies.
"The court has made its ruling and I will abide by the ruling of the court. Beyond that it would be inappropriate to comment or speculate on the outcome of this case," said Waters in a statement.
As for Hickson, she and her children went on welfare, but it is looking a little better for her, since finding a part-time job.