Lonna Wells Taco Bell employee fired from her job at the Newport, Arkansas fast food outlet as a result of her adult film work past. Worker has no recourse.
Her work had netted Wells two AVN Award nominations along with her also maintaining an OnlyFans page.
According to Wells, a married mother, the plan was to take up the loss of income slack after stepping away from adult entertainment by working at Taco Bells until the pandemic died down.
She had been on the job less than a week when the outlet manager fired her. The ouster came after a customer told the outlet that as a ‘God-fearing Christian’ they didn’t feel comfortable giving the establishment their business.
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‘Whatever you do in your spare time is your business.’
It remained unclear how the customer knew about Wells’ former profession – if they recognized her or if they’d been told by someone else who did.
‘I just started bawling. I don’t know if it was because I was upset, or I was ticked, or a little bit of both,’ Wells told the The Daily Beast.
According to Wells, she had informed the hiring manager, April Garcia, about her experience as an online sex worker during the interview process.
‘I was very open about it and said, ‘Hey, this is what I do as a job right now and I’ve been doing it since 2017, is this going to cause any problems,” Wells said.
She claims Garcia told her, ‘It’s not going to cause any problems. Whatever you do in your spare time is your business.’
‘I basically took it as a replacement for the shoots, so that way we’d have money to pay our bills, buy groceries, and put food on the table,’ maintains Wells, who has young children. ‘I never expected to hear, ‘Because of your sex work, you cannot work here.’ It felt like discrimination.’
Unfortunately, there is very little legal recourse for Wells. According to the Arkansas Department of Labor and Licensing, ‘Arkansas recognizes the doctrine of ‘employment at will.’
Sex workers marginalized
This means that, as a general rule, either the employer or the employee may end the employment relationship at any time for any reason or for no reason at all. The only exceptions to this rule are ‘firing an employee on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, national origin, disability or genetic information,’ or if a woman ‘is pregnant or has had an abortion.’
Furthermore, it is ‘a crime to perform sexual acts in exchange for compensation’ in the state of Arkansas, thereby outlawing all consensual sex work.
‘I’m tired of seeing this happen to workers. We’re normal people. Whatever you do in your private life or spare time should be private,’ Wells told the DailyBeast. ‘If we don’t speak up, who’s to say this isn’t going to keep happening?’
Taco Bell since issued a statement claiming that Wells had been fired due to a violation of the store’s ‘policies and procedures.’
‘Taco Bell team members come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and all are welcome into the Taco Bell family,’ the statement reads.
‘This former team member worked for a franchise location and the franchisee has informed us that the accusations made are not accurate and that she was instead terminated for violation of their policies and procedures.’