McDonald’s has been blamed for everything from burning folks with hot coffee to causing obesity, so can you really say you’re surprised that the fast food chain has been named in a federal lawsuit for contributing to prostitution?
Back in 1983, Shelley Lynn worked in a Nevada McDonald’s franchise owned by Keith Handley and in 1985 she started dating the guy. Once their relationship took off, she claims that Handley ordered one of his managers to terminate Lynn for acts of insubordination that she never committed. He allegedly did this with the goal of turning her “into a prostitute earning a lot of money.”
His next trick was to upgrade her lifestyle, including buying her a new home, and then tell her that he could no longer afford any of it so she’d have to become a Vegas showgirl, which turned into her becoming a legal paid sex worker. By 1986 she was working at the ridiculously named Las Vegas brothel “The Chicken Ranch,” where she was a “top booker” having sex with as many as twelve men per night. However, as you might imagine, she describes the place as abusive and horrifying. Only after all of this did Handley and Lynn get married in 1988, later divorcing. Sounds like a mess, but what does any of this have to do with McDonald’s?
Lynn claims that because McDonald’s only paid her minimum wage, offered no health care, and had no system in place for airing employee grievances, the chain contributed to her decline into prostitution. She’s also arguing that the company failed to properly screen and train Handley. If they had done so, she says, he would not have been granted the lucrative position of owning a McDonald’s and certainly would not be allowed to have had her fired from the restaurant under false pretenses. If she hadn’t lost her cashier gig she wouldn’t have been so dependent on Handley and would never have ended up at The Chicken Ranch. So along with Handley owing her, McDonald’s also owes her lost wages and damages.
The argument that an oppressive workplace is a bad thing and ultimately contributes to women becoming sex workers makes general sense, but really? It sounds more like she was in an abusive relationship, did some distasteful things after being manipulated by a man, and has come to her senses over twenty years later wishing she’d never donned a paper hat and nametag. The regret makes sense but is any of this really Micky D’s fault?
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