LOS ANGELES (CN) - A woman claims in a Federal Court complaint that her ex-husband met her after she was hired to work at McDonald's and later pushed her into prostitution in Nevada. She blames McDonald's USA in part for the events.
Shelley Lynn sued her ex-husband, Keith Handley, his company Ivernia, and McDonald's USA, in Federal Court.
Lynn claims she was "economically and psychologically" coerced into prostitution by Handley, whose company Ivernia owns or owned McDonald's franchises. The events she describes took place roughly two decades ago.
According to the complaint, Handley hired Lynn to work as a counter person at a McDonald's in 1982 in Arroyo Grande, Calif., and they began dating in December 1985.
Included in the allegations against McDonald's, she has the ubiquitous fast food franchise works to keep unions out, offers an inferior health care plan and no pension benefits. Most employees, she says, are paid minimum wages, as was Lynn. And, she says in her complaint, "There is no affirmative action to encourage women employees and other women to purchase franchises."
Turning to her ex-husband, Lynn says his goal was to turn her "into a prostitute earning a lot of money -- at least for a non-union, low wage McDonald's employee. At the time Handley began dating Lynn, she says in her complaint, Handley ordered Mr. McGrady, one of his managers, to terminate Lynn for insubordination which was sham."
"This made Lynn extremely vulnerable to Handley's demands," said the complaint. "McDonald's had no policy in place whereby Lynn could have filed a grievance against Handley, Ivernia, and McDonald's," she says in her action.
Lynn claims Handley bought a home in Las Vegas for her, as she wanted to work as a performer in a Las Vegas show, but that after he bought the home he told her "that she would have to go to work as a prostitute because Handley could not maintain both the Las Vegas home and his home in Arroyo Grande. Handley then began pressuring Lynn on an almost daily basis, arguing with her every day that she needed to become a prostitute in a legal brothel, it was no big deal to engage in sex to make money, that she would lose her home and everything she had, which was true," according to the complaint.
In December 1986, Lynn says, she began working at the Chicken Ranch in Pahrump, Nevada, where she claims she became a "top booker," and once was required to have sex with 12 men in one night.
While working for the Chicken Ranch, the complaint states, one man grabbed her breast so hard it left a bruised imprint of his hand on her breast. Even if she was having dinner, she had to leave if a man showed up and wanted sex, according to the complaint.
Lynn says she and Handley were married in March 1988, but later divorced.
According to Lynn's complaint, McDonald's "failed to conduct a due diligence into the moral character of Handley when it sold franchises to him."
She claims McDonald's "failed to properly supervise and train Handley, as a direct result of which 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," according to the complaint.
Lynn claims that McDonald's "does not insure employee policies are in place to protect against unscrupulous and criminal individuals like Handley. It has an active, notorious, and hostile campaign to keep unions out. It offers an inferior health care plan and no pension benefits. Most employees are paid minimum wages as was Lynn. There is no affirmative action to encourage women employees and other women to purchase franchises."
Lynn seeks lost wages, special damages, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for sex trafficking, negligent retention and supervision of franchisees, and racketeering, among other claims.
She is represented by Patricia Barry.