Woman's Lawsuit Says McDonald's Helped Make Her a Hooker

A woman says the burger behemoth's low wages, coupled with its lackadaisical vetting of would-be franchise owners, helped push her into a job at a Nevada brothel.

By Sam Schulz
|  Thursday, Mar 29, 2012  |  Updated 2:26 PM EDT
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A California woman claims she would not have been forced into prostitution had McDonald's properly vetted her ex-husband before letting him open a franchise. She says that after she began working for his restaurant, he fired her and forced her into working in a Nevada brothel.

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McDonald's has been hit with plenty of lawsuits, but this one could boast the most eyebrow-raising allegation: that the chain's low wages forced an employee into prostitution.

That's what one former McDonald's worker claims with a new lawsuit against the fast food giant and her ex-husband, for whose franchise she allegedly worked.

The woman says the burger behemoth's low wages, coupled with its lackadaisical vetting of would-be franchise owners, helped push her into a job at a Nevada brothel.

With the lawsuit she filed in Los Angeles federal court, Shelley Lynn claims that Keith Handley hired her to work the counter at his Arroyo Grande, Calif., franchise but soon wrongfully fired her — the better to make her vulnerable and force her into prostitution, she claims, the New York Daily News reported.

Handley allegedly pressured her into a life of sex work, requiring her to have sex with up to 12 men per night at a legal brothel in a desert town on the California-Nevada border.

None of that would have happened, said Lynn, had McDonald's had a better grievance system in place and not sold Handley a franchise in the first place — and had McDonald's treated its franchise workers better.

Lynn said her situation was exacerbated by McDonalds' low wages, anti-union stance, subpar health insurance and lack of an affirmative action program to encourage women employees to buy franchises, Courthouse News Service reported.

In the years after she began working as a hooker, Lynn said, she married Handley, but they soon divorced.

Lynn claims McDonald's didn't properly investigate Handley's character before letting him open his restaurant and didn't sufficiently train him, effectively letting him run a pimping operation out of the burger joint.

The suit alleges sex trafficking, negligent supervision and racketeering, among other violations of federal law, and seeks lost wages, compensatory damages, punitive damages and more, according to the New York Daily News.

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