Andrew Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which the parent company of chains that include Carl’s Jr and Hardees. He is president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for US labor secretary, which is alarming for many reasons, not least of which are the incredibly high numbers of sexual harassment reports at his restaurants.
The Guardian reports that Restaurant Opportunities Center (Roc) United, a restaurant worker’s rights non-profit advocacy group, has released research they’ve done on the chains, saying that they found a 66% reporting rate among CKE employees. The national average for female worker harassment in the fast food industry is at an already depressingly high 40%, but CKE has gone above and beyond. It’s a number that Roc has labeled as “disturbing.”
The ads for Carl’s Jr are notoriously sexist, and many workers reported that their harassment was frequently connected to mentions of the ad campaigns:
“Customers have asked why I don’t dress like the women in the commercials,” one Tennessee-based Hardee’s employee told researchers.
“I continually get notes left on tables from customers, customers flirt or ask me out,” said another Carl’s Jr employee in California. “I have also been followed outside the store by customers.”
Puzder is a big supporter of his company’s advertisements and reportedly said in 2011, “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.”
Roc United also found that a third of the 564 workers surveyed reported some form of wage theft and violations of worker rights to breaks, meals, and sick days. While CKE has not commented on the survey, a spokeswoman for Trump’s transition team, Elizabeth Johnson, said in an email to the Guardian that the data was “fake news” and paid for by “unions and special interests opposed to Andy Puzder’s nomination.” Yes, unions, a suspicion likely spurred by Puzder’s vocal opposition to raiding the minimum wage.
Puzder has contributed hundred of thousands of dollars to the Trump campaign, and as labor secretary he would have the ability to effect the working conditions of women all across America, instead of just in thousands of restaurant franchises.