Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

Food

Former McDonald's Worker Claims Job Turned Her Into a Prostitute

mcdonalds.png
Photo by TooMuchFire via the LAist Featured Photos pool
Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

A former McDonald's worker says that her job serving up chicken with ranch led to her working at the brothel Chicken Ranch.Shelley Lynn filed a lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles this week claiming that her work at a McDonald's set her on the road to prostitution, according to Courthouse News Service' summary of the lawsuit. (And no, this claim is not at all related to a woman in Burbank accused of offering sexual favors in exchange for chicken McNuggets.)

The story is much longer and more convoluted than a minimum wage worker being forced to turn tricks on the side to make rent, and it all took place decades ago.

The lawsuit says Lynn met Keith Handley in 1982 when she started working at a McDonald's in Arroyo Grande, which is near Pismo Beach on the central coast. Handley owned a company called Ivernia that opened the franchise in Arroyo Grande. The couple began dating in 1985, but then Lynn claims that he convinced one of his managers to make false claims against her and then fire her for insubordination.

This is when the story enters made-for-TV territory: the lawsuit says Handley bought her a home in Las Vegas in 1986, where Lynn had dreams of making it as a showgirl. Instead, he pressured her to work as a prostitute at the brothel Chicken Ranch just outside of Vegas, where she became a "top booker" who was forced to sleep with up to 12 men in a night. The couple married in 1988 but they later divorced.

Support for LAist comes from

What does McDonald's have to do with anything? The suit claims McDonald's did a bad job screening Handley and that it put Lynn in a vulnerable position by not offering its workers decent benefits and rights against retaliation.

The lawsuit says Handley "used his position as an employer and conspired with his corporation Ivernia to coerce and bribe two of Ivernia's employees to make false statements against Lynn during Handley's dissolution and to suppress relevant evidence he had disclosed about himself ... . Handley also engaged in pimping operations out of the McDonald's franchises he owned."

Courthouse News says Lynn is hoping to recover "lost wages, special damages, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for sex trafficking, negligent retention and supervision of franchisees, and racketeering, among other claims" from Handley, his company Ivernia, and McDonald's USA.

Handley did not respond to the New York Daily News' request for a comment.