An adult actress is accusing a Taco Bell in Newport, Arkansas, of terminating her over her pornographic past.
In an interview with The Daily Beast published Tuesday, Lonna Wells, 33, says she received a call less than two weeks ago from her manager, April Garcia, saying she was let go from her position.
“They couldn’t have even given me a heads-up, or waited until I got there to say something,” Wells said about the 7:30 a.m. call. “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.”
When asked why, Garcia reportedly said a religious customer — who the article describes as a “God-fearing Christian” — filed a formal complaint saying she didn’t feel comfortable doing business with an adult actress.
Wells initially worked as an exotic dancer in 2010 but quit three years later to start a family with her husband. In 2017, she began shooting amateur Internet porn to earn extra money for the family.
Recently, Wells stopped shooting porn due to COVID-19 health concerns and began working at Taco Bell amid the pandemic.
Wells says she disclosed her sex work to Garcia in the job interview and was reportedly told it would not be a problem.
“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?’ And I was told by the manager, ‘No, it’s not going to cause any problems. Whatever you do in your spare time is your business.’”
However, when Wells brought this up to Garcia during the layoff call, Garcia reportedly apologized.
When Wells asked to speak to a more senior administrator, Garcia reportedly refused, and said the decision was final.
In the article, the author says he called Garcia, who accused him of being a “prank caller” after he brought up Wells’ government name. After calling again, the author says Garcia admitted that Wells’ “name does sound familiar to me” and said she was not allowed to speak with the press. When pressed about Wells’ firing, Garcia reportedly told the writer, “This is definitely a prank phone call. I’m sorry if you don’t have anything better to do with your time, but I’m not going to entertain you today,” and hung up.
Sadly, the article notes that there is little legal recourse for Wells as employers or employees in the state of Arkansas “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.”
Additionally, it is “a crime to perform sexual acts in exchange for compensation” in the state of Arkansas.
In response to this story, Taco Bell issued a statement saying Wells’ “accusations… are not accurate.”
“Taco Bell team members come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and all are welcome into the Taco Bell family. 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,” it stated.
On Tuesday, Wells created a GoFundMe to “help replace what I lost and help with bills, food, and go towards trying to get the Arkansas State laws changed to protect everyone from here that’s in our industry.”
On Wednesday, Wells’ responded to Taco Bell’s statement, saying she will now use the fundraised money “for a lawyer.”
As of this writing, the page has raised over $1,600.