Meet Trump’s Pick for Labor Secretary: Andy “Bad Boss” Puzder

The Bad Boss

Trump’s 1st Nominee for Labor Secretary

Andy Puzder was President Donald Trump’s first nominee for Labor Secretary. Since 2000 he has been CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc., the parent company of fast food chains Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, and others. Throughout his many years in the fast food industry, Puzder has demonstrated a deep and unrelenting disdain for his own employees, once calling them “the worst of the worst,” and indicating he would prefer to employ robots. He also has opposed a variety of policies designed to help low-wage workers like his, including overtime for those making $24,000 a year and working more than 40 hours in a week, paid family leave, and increasing the minimum wage, to name a few. While he collected millions of dollars in salary and benefits, Puzder’s CKE spent millions of dollars settling lawsuits alleging wage theft and racial, gender, age, and disability discrimination. Puzder’s CKE Restaurants have had a serious problem with the sexual harassment and sexual assault of its female workers. If confirmed, Puzder’s presence in cabinet meetings could get awkward given his difference of opinion with Trump on undocumented immigrants, as well as his view that Trump should release his tax returns and might not do “a very good job as president.” Puzder withdrew his name from consideration on February 15, 2017.


Puzder Thinks His Workers Are “the Worst of the Worst” And He Treats Them Like It (He Also Wouldn’t Mind Replacing Them with Robots)

Puzder called his fast food workers “the worst of the worst.”

Fast food workers employed by Puzder’s CKE Restaurants are poorly paid, but Puzder got paid millions of dollars annually, and the company covers his country club dues and gives him a “modest automobile allowance.”

  • According to CKE’s 2012 SEC Form 10-K/A, Andre Puzder’s base salary that year was $1,070,000. He was paid two bonuses of $1,255,000 and $1,985,844 in cash incentive compensation. Puzder’s pay also included “payment of the initiation fee and membership dues of a social or recreational club for the purpose of maintaining various business relationships.” He also received health insurance, disability insurance, a mobile phone, personal tax preparation, and “a modest automobile allowance.” A summary on CKE’s 2012 SEC Form 10-K/A says Puzder received a total compensation package of $7,288,188 in 2010, $10,117,351 in 2011, and $4,485,055 in 2012. [Securities and Exchange Commission, CKE Restaurants, Inc., “Amendment No. 1 to Form 10-K/A,” May 4, 2012.]
  • According to Nick Welsh of The Santa Barbara Independent, “critics have objected Puzder is paid $17,000 a day while many of his employees make about $15,000 a year,” which “means Puzder makes 291 times more than his lowest paid worker.” [Nick Welsh, “Every Dog Has His Day,” Santa Barbara (CA) Independent, April 21, 2016.]

Puzder complained that his fast food restaurants must comply with regulations pertaining to illegal immigration, wages, workers’ compensation, discrimination, and occupational safety.

  • Puzder, in 2011, wrote that Carl’s Jr. restaurants in California must comply with “fifty-seven separate categories of regulations. This list covers vast bureaucratic structures implementing and enforcing laws and regulations that include . . . illegal immigration, workers compensation, credit reporting, wages and hours, labor relations, numerous forms of discrimination and occupational safety,” as well “as the Polygraph Protection Act and the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act.” [Andrew Puzder, “Karchers’ Success Story Tougher to Write Today,” Orange County (CA) Register, July 17, 2011.]

“‘They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,’ says Puzder of . . . machines.”

Puzder is a free trade advocate and “an advocate of importing more low-skilled laborers.”

  • Andrew Puzder is “an advocate of importing more low-skilled laborers to meet the needs of his high-turnover industry.” [David Frum, “The Great Republican Revolt,” The Atlantic online, December 21, 2015.]

Puzder Is at Odds With Trump on Undocumented Immigrants, and Questioned If Trump Would Be A Good President

Puzder acknowledged that CKE Restaurants have used undocumented labor.

  • Puzder, in 2013, acknowledged that CKE Restaurants in the past had used undocumented labor. He said, “E-Verify has actually been very, very useful for us . . . but before E-Verify, you’d announce that the ICE agents are going to be coming through, and about 20% of your general managers wouldn’t show up the next day, you know, they’d be gone.” [Andrew Puzder, “Armchair Conversation: The Business Perspective.” Comments presented at the “Essential Workers? Less-Skilled Immigrants and the Changing US Economy” Symposium, hosted by American Enterprise Institute and Immigration Works USA, Washington, DC, June 25, 2013.]

Puzder said, if “‘we were able to hire people who are currently here illegally . . . that would be a big benefit, I think, to us and to everybody else that has to hire workers in that category.’” He supports “a path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants.

  • Puzder said, if “‘we were able to hire people who are currently here illegally, if there were a way to change their status so that they are here legally that would be a big benefit I think to us and to everybody else that has to hire workers in that category. I think that it’d be a real boost to the economy.’” [Ibid.; and Zaid Jilani, “Donald Trump’s Labor Secretary Pick Wants More Cheap Immigrants in American Jobs,” The Intercept, December 8, 2016.]
  • He said in reference to the Gang of Eight immigration reform bill, which included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, “if we had immigration reform, and were able to hire these people who really want to work, we’d have a more diverse, incentivized, and productive workforce. We’d have access not only to low-skilled workers in our business, but the high-skilled workers that everybody talks about.” Puzder asserted that this bill is “the right thing to do. It’s the country that we are. It’s the people that we are, and we need to foster that image across the world and in the United States.” [Puzder, “Armchair Conversation.”]
  • In 2015 Puzder wrote, “with some 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally, every candidate should support a path to legal status–short of citizenship–for illegal immigrants.” [Andy Puzder, “Ending the Republican Drama about Immigration,” Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2015.]

In 2013, Puzder wrote that the current immigration “system is unfair and unworkable. It’s hurting . . . undocumented workers who are lured to the country by the prospect of employment, then must live in the shadows—and honest business people who just want to operate their businesses consistent with the law.” He supports “a pathway to adjusted status for those here illegally now; and special relief for the children of undocumented immigrants.”

  • In 2013 Andrew Puzder wrote that “the current system is unfair and unworkable. It’s hurting legal immigrants who are unable to navigate it, undocumented workers who are lured to the country by the prospect of employment, then must live in the shadows—and honest business people who just want to operate their businesses consistent with the law.” He thinks immigration reform should include “a pathway to adjusted status for those here illegally now; and special relief for the children of undocumented immigrants,” and should “produce a balanced solution for those who came here unlawfully but for honest reasons.” [Andrew Puzder, “How to Renew the American Dream,” Politico, January 24, 2013.]

Puzder, in 2015, said, he did not know if Trump “‘would do a very good job as president.” He called on Trump to release his tax returns and said he does not “see eye to eye with Mr. Trump on everything.”

For example, he believes “that deporting 11 million people is unworkable,” and he hopes “in the end Mr. Trump comes to this same conclusion.” He thinks most undocumented immigrants should not be deported.

  • In 2015 Puzder said, “‘I don’t know whether he could–whether he would do a very good job as president. It’s different being president than it is being CEO. CEO, you have a lot more say with how things go.” Puzder continued, as president “you have to be a lot more conciliatory, and I don’t know if he could do that.”Puzder, in 2016, called on Donald Trump to release his tax returns, saying, “If there is something in those tax returns, you know, let’s get it out. Donald Trump said they were beautiful. Let’s find out if they are beautiful, and if there [is] something in them, let voters make a decision one way or another as to whether or not that is something that might make it difficult for him to get elected.” [Andy Puzder, interview by Deirdre Bolton, Risk & Reward with Deirdre Bolton, Fox Business, March 2, 2016; and Andy Puzder, “When Losing Is No Longer an Option, Challenge the Status Quo and Map a New Course of Action,” official website of Andy Puzder, Secretary of Labor, Nominee, July 17, 2015, accessed February 4, 2017.]
  • A column for the Wall Street Journal co-written by Puzder in 2016 stated, “we don’t see eye to eye with Mr. Trump on everything. In our opinion, legal immigrants are an asset to the country. We believe that deporting 11 million people is unworkable, and we hope in the end Mr. Trump comes to this same conclusion. Deportation should be pursued only when an illegal immigrant has committed a felony or become a ‘public charge.’” [Andy Puzder and Stephen Moore, “A Trump Economy Beats Clinton’s,” Wall Street Journal, July 14, 2016.]

“‘Immigrants appreciate what America offers,’ Puzder said during a…visit to Washington to lobby for immigration reform. ‘They are not taking jobs from Americans, because there are not sufficient Americans applying for jobs.’”

  • “‘Immigrants appreciate what America offers,’ Puzder said during a . . . visit to Washington to lobby for immigration reform. ‘They are not taking jobs from Americans, because there are not sufficient Americans applying for jobs.’” [Pamela Constable, “Burden Or Boon?,” Washington Post, August 25, 2013.]

Puzder thinks doubling the number of border security agents is “overkill.”

  • Puzder, in 2013, said, “If we’re going to go from 20,000 border security agents to 40,000, you know . . . maybe that’s overkill.” [Andrew Puzder, “Armchair Conversation: The Business Perspective.” Comments presented at the “Essential Workers? Less-Skilled Immigrants and the Changing US Economy” Symposium, hosted by American Enterprise Institute and Immigration Works USA, Washington, DC, June 25, 2013.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants promoted the use of “a new ATM and stored-value card geared toward Hispanics that does not require the consumer to have identification or a bank account.”

  • In 2002, Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., “a wholly owned subsidiary of CKE Restaurants, Inc.,” and eViva Group, Inc., announced “that they will test the eViva! Quick Money Card” at a Carl’s Jr. in Huntington Park, CA. “The eViva! Quick Money Card . . . [was] a new ATM and stored-value card geared toward Hispanics that does not require the consumer to have identification or a bank account.” [[Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., “Carl’s Jr. Teams Up With eViva Group to Test Quick Money Card(TM),” news release, February 11, 2002.]

Puzder Is Opposed to Overtime Pay, Minimum Wage Increases, Paid Family Leave for Low-Wage Workers, Meanwhile His Company Has Paid $20 Million on Lawsuits for Wage Theft

Puzder has long opposed requiring employers to pay overtime to workers who earn $24,000 a year and work more than 40 hours in a week.

  • Puzder, in 2016, wrote that a proposed U.S. Labor Department regulation to increase “overtime pay for managers” would more than double “the salary threshold for overtime-exempt employees to $47,476 from $23,660.” If this rule goes into effect “the businesses that need and hire the most employees will get hit the hardest – creating a competitive advantage for firms that require fewer employees.” In 2014 he asserted that what managers in this salary range “lose in overtime pay they gain in the stature and sense of accomplishment that comes from being a salaried manager. This is hardly oppressive.” [Andy Puzder, “The Touchscreen Will Take Your Order Now,” Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2016; and Puzder, “Obama’s Overtime-Pay Boomerang,” Wall Street Journal, March 25, 2014.]

Puzder opposes a law “to ensure companies aren’t exploiting workers by classifying them as salaried and exempt from overtime pay.”

  • “In California . . . managers are allowed to work only 50 percent of their time on non-managerial tasks. This law is intended to ensure companies aren’t exploiting workers by classifying them as salaried and exempt from overtime pay. Puzder said this leads to disgruntled employees hiring attorneys to file class-action lawsuits against companies, claiming the managers worked more than half their time on non-managerial tasks. . . [Puzder] said CKE Restaurants has spent $20 million on these California lawsuits in the past eight years. As a result, CKE Restaurants has made its managers hourly workers.” [Jonathan Winslow, “Carl’s Jr. CEO says California tough on business,” Orange County (CA) Register, November 11, 2014.]

Puzder has a history of criticizing paid family leave and “state and local minimum wages,” even though he acknowledged that increasing the minimum wage “doesn’t have much of an impact on profitability” of CKE Restaurants.

  • Puzder was asked, “In a perfect world, I’d bet you wouldn’t want any minimum wage, would you?” Puzder responded, “No, well, the minimum wage is zero.” [Andy Puznder, interview by Joe Kernen, Becky Quick, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, Squawk Box, CNBC, May 20, 2016.]
  • In 2016 Puzder wrote, “Since the end of the recession, anemic economic growth has stifled the competition for employees that leads to increased wages and benefits. The left . . .proposed that government mandate such improvements, providing the fruits of economic growth without actually growing the economy. This has come in the form of state and local minimum wages, paid family leave, minimum-hours legislation, and ObamaCare’s employer mandate.” [Puzder, “Touchscreen Will Take Your Order.”]
  • Andrew Puzder, in 2007, argued that increasing the minimum wage “from a profit perspective . . . generally doesn’t impact us very much because everybody in the industry just raises their prices. So it’s not something that should have a material impact other than we’re going to have [to] raise our prices.” He continued, “in the long-term, and by the long-term I mean by a couple of quarters, it doesn’t have much of an impact on profitability.” [CKE Restaurants 3rd Quarter of 2007 Earnings Conference Call, December 13, 2016.]

Puzder has a long history of opposing minimum wage increases and thinks many jobs are not worth paying employees a higher minimum wage. He asked, “How do you pay somebody $15 an hour to scoop ice cream?”

  • Puzder, in 2013, wrote, “The real impact of a minimum wage increase is twofold: it prices out of a job many inexperienced or low-skilled workers, including young workers who desperately need employment; and, it increases the economic feasibility of automation.” [Andrew Puzder, “The True Path to Higher Wages for All,” Orange County (CA) Register, October 8, 2013.]
  • In 2014 Puzder wrote, “The feds can mandate a higher wage, but some jobs don’t produce enough economic value to bear the increase. If government could transform unskilled entry-level positions into middle-income jobs, the Soviet Union would be today’s dominant world economy. Spain and Greece would be thriving.” He thinks the federal government should “consider geography,” with states and cities allowed “to adjust the minimum wage based on regional economic conditions or local needs.” He also thinks “a sensible minimum-wage policy would exempt teenagers and students who need these jobs.” More specifically, he would exclude people under 22 years old from minimum wage increases. [Andy Puzder, “Minimum Wage, Maximum Politics,” Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2014; and Puzder, interview by Neil Cavuto, Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News, November 7, 2014.]

Puzder, in 2006, contributed $10K to the Nevadans Against Question 6 (Nix 6) PAC, which sought to block a state constitutional amendment raising the minimum wage.

  • Andrew Puzder, on September 25, 2006, contributed $10,000 to the Nevadans Against Question 6 (Nix 6) PAC, which sought to block an addition to the Nevada Constitution to set the minimum wage, with the minimum wage set at “$5.15 per hour worked if the employer provides health benefits, or $6.15 per hour worked if the employer does not provide health benefits.” These rates would increase with changes in the federal minimum wage and inflation. [“Campaign Contributions and Expenses Report, for Period Aug. 4, 2006 – Oct. 26, 2006,” Nevadans Against Question 6 (Nix 6) P.A.C., October 31, 2006; and “Nevada Minimum Wage Act, Question 6 (2006),” ballotopedia.org website, accessed February 4, 2017.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants Has Spent Tens-of-Millions of Dollars on Wage Theft, Discrimination, and Lawsuits While Nearly 60 Percent of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Investigations of the Company Resulted in Violations

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants “spent $20 million on . . . lawsuits” for violating law established “to ensure companies aren’t exploiting workers by classifying them as salaried and exempt from overtime pay.”

  • “In California . . . managers are allowed to work only 50 percent of their time on non-managerial tasks. This law is intended to ensure companies aren’t exploiting workers by classifying them as salaried and exempt from overtime pay. Puzder said this leads to disgruntled employees hiring attorneys to file class-action lawsuits against companies, claiming the managers worked more than half their time on non-managerial tasks.” He “said CKE Restaurants has spent $20 million on these California lawsuits in the past eight years. As a result, CKE Restaurants has made its managers hourly workers.” [Jonathan Winslow, “Carl’s Jr. CEO says California tough on business,” Orange County (CA) Register, November 11, 2014.]

Almost 60 percent of Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) investigations of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants resulted in violations. FSLA establishes the minimum wage and overtime pay regulations.

Restaurant workers claimed Puzder’s CKE “restaurants often broke the law by cheating them on their wages. Some said they were expected to arrive early for their shifts to clean but were not allowed to clock in until later. Others said they would often work through their breaks . . . unpaid.”

  • “In interviews and lawsuits, workers have” charged “that the restaurants often broke the law by cheating them on their wages. Some said they were expected to arrive early for their shifts to clean but were not allowed to clock in until later. Others said they would often work through their breaks, even though those rest periods, required by California law, were unpaid.” [Jodi Kantor and Jennifer Medina, “Workers Say Andrew Puzder Is ‘Not the One to Protect’ Them, but He’s Been Chosen To,” New York Times, January 15, 2017.]

According to one survey, more than one quarter of employees at Puzder’s CKE Restaurants “have worked ‘off the clock.’” For some employees “this involved having their timecards altered to reflect less time than they actually worked.” Almost one-third of CKE “workers reported that they’ve worked over 40 hours a week without being paid” overtime.

  • According to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “almost a third (28 percent) of respondents worked off-the-clock. Approximately one third reported a wide range of wage theft violations, including not receiving required breaks, and overtime pay.” Additionally, “nearly one third (32 percent) of workers reported that they’ve worked over 40 hours a week without being paid time and a half.” [Secretary of Labor Violations? The Low Road Business Model of CKE Restaurant Inc’s Andrew Puzder, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United in Collaboration with Corporate Accountability International, January 10, 2017.]
  • “More than one quarter (26 percent) of workers reported that they have worked ‘off the clock’ at CKE Restaurants. For some workers this involved having their timecards altered to reflect less time than they actually worked.” [Ibid.]

According to a woman who worked at CKE Restaurants for two decades, “until 2009, CKE paid a flat salary to General Managers” with no overtime, even though they did “the exact same work as hourly employees.” In 2009 CKE changed its practices, so it cut the wages of general managers.

“Besides cutting . . . wages, CKE . . . forced” these managers “to work off the clock by imposing a strict labor budget” that essentially required them to do so “in order to get all the work done without going over . . . budget.” General managers that went “over the labor budget . . . would be disciplined or fired,” so they “worked without pay.”

CKE’s “whole system is set up to pressure General Mangers into working without being paid.” This woman said the company under the leadership of Andrew Puzder “just seemed not to care about the employees.” He “took a company that I loved and turned it into a business that makes money by stealing” from its workers, she said.

  • Laura Mc Donald “worked at Carl Karcher Enterprises for more than twenty years.” She said, “Until 2009, CKE paid a flat salary to General Managers. Even though we do the exact same work as hourly employees, the company refused to pay any overtime or even to pay anything to recognize the fact that we always work much more than 40 hours each week.” [Laura McDonald, Congressional Testimony “Puzder Forum McDonald testimony,” January 1, 2017.]
  • “After 2009, CKE changed the rules and said that General Managers in California were all hourly employee.” The company set the “wages so low that we had to work 47½ hours a week just to earn the same money we’ve been being paid as a salary. In other words, CKE avoided paying overtime by setting our hourly wages so low that we didn’t make anything extra working more than 40 hours a week. [Ibid.]
  • Besides cutting our wages, CKE also forced us to work off the clock by imposing a strict labor budget. . . . At CKE you have to work off the clock in order to get all the work done without going over your budget. . . . If a General Manger goes over the labor budget, we would be disciplined or fired. So we worked without pay. . . . All General Mangers work off the clock, and CKE knows we do it. Our District Mangers talk to us when they know we are not on the schedule and not clocked in. The whole system is set up to pressure General Mangers into working without being paid.” [Ibid.]
  • “All of these problems got worse in my last few years at CKE. When Carl Karcher was alive and in charge, we felt like someone in the company at least cared about the workers. Since Mr. Karcher passed away, CKE has tightened its budgets in a way that makes it impossible to do the job without working off the clock. Worse, the company just seemed not to care about the employees anymore.” [Ibid.]
  • “Mr. Puzder took a company that I loved and turned it into a business that makes money by stealing form [sic] its workers.” [Ibid.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants “settled several multimillion-dollar class action lawsuits dealing with wages and working conditions brought by its employees.”

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, in 2004, “agreed to pay up to $9 million to settle claims that former and current restaurant managers . . . improperly were denied overtime compensation.”

  • “CKE Restaurants Inc.’s subsidiary Carl Karcher Enterprises, which operates and franchises the . . . Carl’s Jr. chain, agreed to pay up to $9 million to settle claims that former and current restaurant managers in California improperly were denied overtime compensation.” [Nation’s Restaurant News, December 20, 2004.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants agreed to pay unpaid overtime to 456 workers after a 2006-2007 Department of Labor investigation into the matter.


Puzder Cares Little About the Health and Safety of His Workers, Has Gone to Great Lengths to Them Deny Medical Insurance

Puzder, in 2011, said fast food workers at CKE Restaurants told him they do not buy health insurance because they “get it for free at the emergency room.” In 2016 he advocated replacing ObamaCare with “cash for services” and appointments with doctors via video.

  • Andrew Puzder, in 2011, said, “I said to some of the employees” at restaurants operated by CKE, “‘Why do so few of you buy the insurance that we offer that’s so inexpensive?’ And the response was, ‘Well, Mr. Puzder, we get it for free at the emergency room.’” [Hearing of the Health Care, District of Columbia, Census, and the National Archives Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, July 29, 2011.]
  • Puzder, in 2016, wrote that “many patients are now paying cash for routine procedures such as fixing a broken nose, getting X-Rays and other tests, or even minor surgeries, increasing pricing discipline and transparency.” He continued, “This proliferation of cash for services cuts both bureaucracy and costs and often, makes such services cheaper than when insurance is involved. Consider also the growth of app-based health care such as Doctors on Demand,” which provides “Video Visits” with doctors. [Andy Puzder, “The Health-Care Reform We Need,” Real Clear Policy, October 24, 2016; and “Mission Statement,” Doctor on Demand webstie, accessed February 4, 2017.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, in 2012, started hiring “part-time workers to replace . . . full-time employees” to avoid having to provide workers with health insurance.

  • CKE Restaurants, in 2012, started hiring “part-time workers to replace departing full-time employees” to avoid having to provide workers with health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. [“Low-wage employers cut full-timers – and liability insurance,” Kansas City (MO) Business Journal, November 5, 2012.]

According to a woman who worked at CKE Restaurants for two decades, “In order to avoid providing healthcare to its employees, CKE puts a strict limit on the number of full-time workers” restaurants are allowed to have. “Even where an employee qualifies for the healthcare benefits they are just too expensive and almost all employees have to decline. The same thing is true of the retirement program, especially because CKE does not match employee contributions.”

  • Laura Mc Donald “worked at Carl Karcher Enterprises for more than twenty years.” She said, “in order to avoid providing healthcare to its employees, CKE puts a strict limit on the number of full-time workers we are allowed to have. . . . Even where an employee qualifies for the healthcare benefits they are just too expensive and almost all employees have to decline. The same thing is true of the retirement program, especially because CKE does not match employee contributions.” [Laura McDonald, Congressional Testimony “Puzder Forum McDonald testimony,” January 1, 2017.]

Puzder opposes requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

  • Andrew Puzder, in his 2010 e-book titled Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why The Government Doesn’t Understand It, criticized ObamaCare for requiring private insurers to “accept new individuals to the pool, even if they have a pre-existing condition that significantly negatively alters the insurer’s ability to cover that risk.” [Andy Puzder and David Newton, “Job Creation: How It Really Works and Why the Government Doesn’t Understand It,” Santa Barbara: E3 Free Market Press, 2010. Kindle e-book.]

“Health and safety violations are widespread at the company.” One-fifth of workers surveyed “said they have been pressured to get work done in a way that could cause injury to themselves or others and nearly one-third” said “they have gotten sick or injured at work.”

  • According to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “health and safety violations are widespread at the company. Many workers pointed to threadbare staffing levels and oversized workloads as two factors driving the violations. As a result, one in five (20 percent) said they have been pressured to get work done in a way that could cause injury to themselves or others and nearly one third (31 percent)” said “they have gotten sick or injured at work. Workers described how they struggle to navigate slippery floors, endure grease burns, and clean hoods over hot char broilers without personal protective equipment. One crewmember at Carl’s Jr.” said “management requires her to ‘do the char broiler hoods and vent [without] letting it cool down and potentially falling onto the char itself.’” [“Secretary of Labor Violations?,” January 10, 2017.]

Puzder, in 2012, complained about being “confronted with a maze of Federal regulations ranging from the EPA’s Clean Air Act regulations and universal waste disposal regulations and OSHA’s various workplace regulations.”

  • Puzder, in 2012, complained that “we are daily confronted with a maze of Federal regulations ranging from the EPA’s Clean Air Act regulations and universal waste disposal regulations and OSHA’s various workplace regulations to laws and regulations as esoteric as the Employee Polygraph Protection Act and the Genetic Information Non- Discrimination Act.” [Hearing of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, February 16, 2012.]

Puzder’s CKE has paid large fines and legal settlements for serious workplace safety violations.

  • “In July 2013, a manager at a Carl’s Jr. restaurant in California told an employee to mop the floors using extremely hot water. The worker had to fill her bucket out of a special dispenser that was elevated on a counter and expelled water with a temperature between 180 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. As the worker wrestled with the water bucket on her third day of mop duty, it dropped to the floor, splashing her with scalding water. The worker ended up having to be hospitalized for her burns. The parent company of the Carl’s Jr. brand, CKE Restaurant Holdings, was cited for three safety violations as a result, including one investigators considered ‘serious,’ according to Labor Department records,” and “agreed to pay $23,420 in fines―an unusually high penalty following a workplace safety inspection.” [Dave Jamieson, “Donald Trump’s Labor Pick Should Know Worker Safety Laws: His Company ‘s Been Fined for Breaking Them,” Huffington Post, December 12, 2016.]
  • “In 2014, one Hardee’s employee in North Carolina ended up tripping over a bucket of hot oil left in a walkway, according to OSHA records. The 18-year-old woman ended up with third-degree burns and had to be hospitalized. The restaurant was operated by Hardee’s Food Systems, a subsidiary of CKE, which was cited for one serious safety violation and fined $6,300.” [Ibid.]
  • Paula Hamrick, in 2014, sued CKE Restaurants, a Hardee’s franchise, Hardee’s Food Systems LLC, Frymaster LLC, and Restaurant Management Group LLC on behalf of Nathan Hamrick, her son. In 2011, when Nathan was an 18-year-old employee at a Hardee’s in West Virginia, he suffered “first degree, second degree, and full thickness burns” after dropping a fryer box full of hot grease, which splattered onto Hamrick’s face, front of body, arms, hands, and legs. As a result of the injury he suffered from residual burns on his body and face. In 2012 he committed suicide. Paula Hamrick claimed her son was not properly trained and not given adequate gloves to carry the fryer box. CKE Restaurants said it should not be held responsible, but a judge ruled that it was “reasonable to infer from these allegations that the Franchisor Defendants had control over the equipment and procedures which contributed to Hamrick’s injury and that their conduct created a risk of physical harm to Hamrick.” The judge also pointed out that CKE Restaurants and the franchisee “had actual knowledge of alleged unsafe working conditions which were of long standing and much complained about.” The case was settled. [Hamrick, et al. v. Restaurant Management Group, LLC, et al., Case No. 2:14-cv-2762, 2014; and Stephen Lee, “Injury Suit Against Franchisor May Proceed, Court Rules; Link Seen to NLRB Decision,” Bloomberg BNA, September 25, 2014.]

“Nearly four out of five . . . CKE . . . workers reported that they have prepared or served food while sick.” Only three in ten CKE workers “have access to sick leave.”

  • According to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “nearly four out of five (79 percent) of CKE Restaurants workers reported that they have prepared or served food while sick. With 69 percent of workers reporting that they do not have access to sick leave, many CKE Restaurants employees have little option but to come into work while sick in order to make ends meet.” [“Secretary of Labor Violations?,” January 10, 2017.]

Puzder criticized “sick leave policies of the sort” that enable “workers to accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave a year.”


You Might Want to Think Twice Before Eating at One of Puzder’s Restaurants Once Your Know About Their Health Code Violations

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants have had widespread food safety issues. In one example, a CKE location was shut down “because of a cockroach infestation” that included “live roaches in the grill area and in an ice machine.” This is a common problem at Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. An NBC investigation determined that Hardee’s is the fourth dirtiest major fast food chain. “Again and again inspectors cited the presence of insects and rodents.”

Puzder Treats His Workers Like They Are Disposable, and Then Fights Their Efforts to Unionize for Better Pay, Benefits, and Working Conditions

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, in 2001, paid union busting consultants more than $53,000.

  • CKE Restaurants hired Labor Information Service, Inc., to dissuade CKE employees from forming a union. In 2001 CKE paid Labor Information Service, Inc. $53,829.96. Labor Information Service, Inc. marketed itself at the time as “uniquely qualified to confront the prospect of union activity in any organization. Whether helping to create preventative strategies or responding to actual union campaigns, our strength lies . . . in effectively educating voters about the value of remaining union free.” [CKE Restaurants, Inc., “Form LM-10,” Department of Labor, Office of Labor-Management Standards, 06/10/02 and “Labor Information Services,” March 31, 2001, Wayback Machine Internet Archive website, accessed February 4, 2017.]

Puzder, who once threatened that if restaurant workers unionized nationwide, franchise restaurants would shut down, had CKE Restaurants lobby Congress on a bill that would have made unionizing workers easier.

  • Puzder, in 2014, wrote, “the National Labor Relations Board’s general counsel . . . ruled that McDonald’s Corp. could be treated, in labor complaints, as a joint employer of its franchisees’ workers.” He continued, “it’s a lose-lose scenario for everyone–except for the labor unions that have long dreamed of organizing restaurant workers nationwide. Even if that dream were realized, though, there would soon be fewer workers to unionize as franchise restaurants began to shut down.” [Andrew Puzder, “Why Do the Feds Want to Dismantle the Golden Arches,” Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2014.]

Puzder Has Even Outsourced Jobs Overseas

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants outsourced jobs to the Philippines.

  • CKE Restaurants “outsourced its technology department to the Philippines.” The company “notified the government in August of 2010 that it was outsourcing its restaurant information technology division to the Philippines. Doing so, the agency found, ‘contributed importantly’ to the layoffs of both CKE employees and those of an outside staffing firm at an Anaheim, California, facility.” CKE Restaurants said, “‘by outsourcing the function to a firm that employs hundreds of Help Desk specialists, CKE was able to improve the quality of service levels to their restaurants.’” [Laurie Kellman and Jeff Horwitz, “Labor Secretary Nominee’s Company Outsourced Jobs,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 26, 2017.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants Have a Vast Sexual Harassment and Violent Sexual Assault Problem

Sexual harassment is a major problem at CKE Restaurants. Two-thirds “of women workers reported that they have experienced sexually harassing behaviors at their workplace,” which “is over 1.5 times greater than the norm in fast food.” This includes women who reported that they were groped, fondled, forced to witness indecent exposure, told to expose themselves, and raped.

  • According to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “sexual harassment is uniquely pervasive at CKE Restaurants; two thirds (66 percent) of women workers reported that they have experienced sexually harassing behaviors at their workplace from either management, co-workers, or customers. This sexual harassment rate at CKE Restaurants is over 1.5 times greater than the norm in fast food.” Thirty percent of women workers said they were deliberately touched, leaned over, cornered, or pinched, while 17 percent said they were sent “texts of a sexual or inappropriate nature” and 16 percent “witnessed indecent exposure.” Thirteen percent said they were inappropriately kissed, patted, fondled or groped, and eleven percent were “told to expose” part of their bodies. Four percent said they were victims of rape or attempted rape. [“Secretary of Labor Violations?,” January 10, 2017.]

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against a CKE subsidiary on behalf of several female employees after a male employee violently assaulted female employees and subjected them “to unwelcome touching and rubbing on their buttocks and breasts,” as well as pressing “his genitals against” the female employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the company “failed to take prompt, effective action” after receiving the complaints. The CKE subsidiary settled the case.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2008, filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit against Hardee’s Food Systems on behalf of several female Hardee’s employees in Tennessee after a male Hardee’s employee subjected female employees “to unwelcome touching and rubbing on their buttocks and breasts” and “often pressed his genitals against” the female employees. In addition, the male employee physically assaulted the female employees by throwing hot food at them and assaulting them with kitchen equipment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claimed that Hardee’s “failed to take prompt, effective action” after receiving the complaints. Hardee’s denied the claims and stated that “any harassment by employees of [the] defendant did not create a hostile work environment” and “did not cause any other employee’s physical or mental well-being to be seriously affected,” but later agreed to pay $75,000 to settle the case and to take corrective actions, including requiring all employees of the Tennessee restaurant to undergo a two-hour mandatory sexual discrimination training, instituting a non-sexual harassment policy that employees would be forced to sign, and firing the manager who mishandled the complaints. [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc., Case No. 2:08-cv-62; and “Management Team,” CKE Restaurants website, accessed February 4, 2017.]

A female employee, in 2005, sued CKE Restaurants, claiming she was sexually harassed. She filed the lawsuit after reporting the harassment to a human resources manager, who told her that her claims could not be substantiated, even though she provided witnesses. The case was settled.

  • Fast food worker Tonya Williams, in 2005, sued CKE Restaurants, alleging that her supervisor, Rebecca Owens, had “routinely requested sexual favors between Tonya Sue Williams, Rebecca Owens, and Rebecca Owens’ husband.” Owens also made Williams look at nude photos of her husband while at work. Williams eventually requested a transfer to another Hardee’s restaurant, but was still being harassed over “phone calls to her management at work from Rebecca Owens.” Williams reported Owens to a human resources manager, but was told that her claims could not be substantiated despite Williams providing witnesses. The case was settled. [Williams v. Hardee’s Restaurants, et al., Case No. 3:05-cv-125, 2005]

A female employee, in 2009, sued CKE Restaurants, claiming a male manager told her she needed to “get some,” recommended she “[get] off” with a pencil, speculated about her sex life, and asked her to guess the length of his penis, among other incidents of sexual harassment. The victim claimed she reported the incidents to a district manager and a corporate human resources officer, who claimed the manager was merely “having a bad day.”

  • In 2009, fast food worker Cynthia Schweik sued CKE Restaurants, claiming a male manager told her she needed to “get some,” recommended she “[get] off” with a pencil, speculated about her sex life in front of other employees, asked her to guess the length of his penis compared to a ladle he held in front of his crotch, and made the employee watch security tape footage while listening to him narrate the video with a sexually explicit story. The victim claimed she reported the incidents to a district manager and a corporate human resources officer, who claimed the manager was merely “having a bad day.” [Nicki Wood, “Blame the French Maids for Area Hardee’s Harassment Suit,” Nashville Scene, August 24, 2009; and Schweik v. CKE Restaurants, Inc., et al., Case No. 3:09-cv-850, 2009.]

A female employee, in 2010, sued CKE Restaurants, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a manager and the company took “no action to protect” her from further assault. She was even scheduled to work alongside her assailant, and claimed other supervisors made “derogatory comments” about the assault and “substantially” reduced her work hours in retaliation.

  • Fast food worker Barbara Fitzgerald, in 2010, sued CKE Restaurants, claiming she was sexually assaulted by a manager while working a nightshift in 2009. Fitzgerald claimed that although she reported the assault to another manager, the company took “no action to protect” her from further assault and even scheduled her to work alongside her assailant. She also claimed other supervisors made “derogatory comments” about the assault and “substantially” reduced her work hours in retaliation. [Fitzgerald v. CKE Restaurants, Case No. 1:10-cv-57, 2010.]

A minor who worked at a Hardee’s was raped by a manager. Higher level management knew that the manager was harassing the minor. The manager who harassed and raped the minor was sent to prison. After he was sent to prison she was harassed by a new shift manager and co-workers about the rapes, but allegedly no corrective actions were taken. The victim sued CKE Restaurants for negligence.

  • In 2013, Kali Kroontje filed a negligence claim against CKE Restaurants. When Kroontje was a 15-year-old, part-time employee at a Hardee’s in South Dakota she was raped twice by her training supervisor. According to court documents, the training supervisor had also posed as Kroontje’s “father and lured her away from school,” and sent her “inappropriate text messages.” Management at the restaurant viewed the text messages and instructed the training manager to stop flirting with Kroontje “because she was a teenager.” After Kroontje’s parents reported the rapes, the training manager was fired, arrested, and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. [Kroontje v. CKE Restaurants Inc. et al., Case No. 4:13-cv-4066, 2013.]
  • In 2011, Kroontje was assigned the night shift against her wishes and was subject to “persistent and pervasive harassment” by the new shift manager. Kroontje also said that she was “shunned” and repeatedly “verbally harassed” by coworkers about the rapes, but “no corrective actions were taken.” Further, Kroontje claimed that Hardee’s “did not train their managers, supervisors, or any employees on sexual harassment policy and procedures.” [Ibid.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants Also Have a Problem with Racial, Gender, Age, and Disability Discrimination

“Nearly 20 percent” of CKE workers said “they have been the target of discriminatory harassment at work, citing age, gender, and race as the most prominent factors in the harassment.”

  • According to a survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “nearly 20 percent of workers” said “they have been the target of discriminatory harassment at work, citing age, gender, and race as the most prominent factors in the harassment. Fourteen percent of workers reported facing discrimination with regard to promotion, discipline, or pay, and 40 percent reported that they have been given less favorable shifts, less hours, or passed over for a promotion and/or paid less than other workers doing similar work.” Of those who faced discrimination:
    • 40 percent said they were victims of age discrimination;
    • 33 percent said they were victims of discrimination based on race;
    • 20 percent said they were victims of discrimination based on gender;
    • 15 percent said they were victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation;
    • 12 percent said they were victims of discrimination based on language; and
    • 9 percent said they were victims of discrimination based on religion. [“Secretary of Labor Violations?,” January 10, 2017.]

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2005, sued Puzder’s CKE Restaurants after employees were subject to “racial harassment and to an offensive, abusive, intimidating and hostile work environment based on their race.” The company never bothered to interview the alleged victims. CKE settled the case.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in 2005, sued Carl Karcher Enterprises over discrimination at a Carl’s Jr. in Elk Grove, CA. A manager at this location subjected employees to “racial harassment and to an offensive, abusive, intimidating and hostile work environment based on their race.” The manager allegedly told workers he had “white pride,” while using racial epithets and displaying white power signs at work. The original complainant was allegedly fired in retaliation “for complaining about the harassment” under the guise of allegedly eating food without paying for it. She said she also received a death threat on her answering machine. After the initial worker filed a complaint, the manager was interviewed by a human resources representative and denied wrongdoing. None of the complainants were interviewed during what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission described as “a very limited investigation.” The manager was not disciplined or fired. The case was settled for $255,000, with $105,000 going to the original complainant and $150,000 going to other minority employees who were harassed, with any remaining funds going to a scholarship fund. [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Carl Karcher Enterprises Dba Carl’s JR Restaurant, Case No. 2:05-cv-1978, 2005; and Rachel Osterman, “Carl’s Jr. settles race claim; Alleged incidents in Elk Grove cost firm $255,000,” Sacramento Bee, December 15, 2005.]

An African American fast food worker sued a subsidiary of Puzder’s CKE Restaurants for racial discrimination after being fired in retaliation for reporting that his white supervisor repeatedly used racial slurs when speaking to him, including referring to him as a “nigger” and a “coon.” The case was settled.

  • Johnny Page, in 2011, sued Hardee’s Food Systems for racial discrimination and retaliation. Page, who worked at a Hardee’s restaurant in Tennessee, claimed his white male supervisor repeatedly used racial slurs when speaking to him, including referring to him as a “nigger” and a “coon.” Page’s supervisor allegedly said things like, “get your black ass back to work” and “nigger, you need to get back to work.” The white, female general manager knew of these comments, but took no action against the supervisor. In addition, the general manager sent Page a text message to his personal phone depicting “a frightened black man running from a group of Ku Klux Klan members in white robes and hoods with a burning cross, apparently waiting to lynch the black man.” Page was subsequently transferred against his wishes to another Hardee’s restaurant much farther from his home, and was fired when he could not get to work a day after the transfer. The case was settled. [Page v. Hardee’s Food Systems, Inc., Case No. 3:11-cv-101, 2011.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants has been sued for age discrimination, violating the Family and Medical Leave Act, and not covering employee health insurance claims.

  • Lois Blackmon filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Hardee’s Food Systems. She claimed she was fired following a diagnosis of vertigo and arthritis after taking two weeks of paid sick leave. Blackmon alleged that her supervisors unfairly blamed her for two customer complaints and used that as an excuse to fire her. In 2015 the case was settled. [Blackmon v. Hardees Food Systems Inc., Case No. 0:14-cv-1636, 2010.]
  • Denise Phillips, in 2003, sued CKE Restaurants and Hardee’s Food Systems for violating the Family and Medical Leave Act. Phillips had been a manager at a Hardee’s restaurant in South Carolina for nine years when her son was killed in a car accident on June 15, 2002, and was informed that she was permitted to take leave through July 8, 2002. However, as a result of her son’s death, Phillips developed a “serious medical condition” in which she “was unable to effectively speak or deal with the public without having a mental breakdown.” Her doctor wrote a letter stating that she would need to take further leave until August 8, 2002. On July 10, 2002, Phillips was notified of her termination due to “her continued absence from work.” Phillips claimed that the company retroactively “changed the date and reason” for her termination to July 3, 2002, “for reasons related to her performance.” The case was settled. [Phillips v. CKE-Hardees Food Sys, et al., Case No. 6:03-cv-546, 2003.]
  • In April 2012, John Jaeger, a Hardee’s district manager in Alabama, filed a lawsuit against Hardee’s Food Systems under the Family Medical Leave Act. Jaeger had been employed by Hardee’s for two years, when, in January 2012, he notified his supervisor that he needed to take a medical leave of absence for ten days at the end of April 2012 because his 12-year-old son with cerebral palsy was scheduled to have his spine surgically fused. Jaeger was the primary caretaker of his son. On April 10, 2012, Jaeger “suffered a medical issue” and was told by a doctor that he could not work until May 10, 2012. Jaeger’s supervisors initially approved his request for medical leave, but informed Jaeger a week later that he was actually being fired. Further, Jaeger’s letter of termination was backdated to April 9, 2012, the day before Jaeger “requested medical leave for his own serious health condition.” [Jaeger v. Hardee’s Food Systems Inc., Case No. 2:12-cv-1714, 2012.]
  • In 2004, Mary Jane Davis filed a lawsuit against CKE Restaurants related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Davis, an employee of “an entity owned by CKE Restaurants, Inc.,” participated in CKE’s health insurance plan. She incurred approximately $10,000 in medical bills and submitted the claim to CKE’s claims administrator UniCare, but UniCare denied Davis’ claims “asserting that the claims were subject to a pre-existing condition exclusion and failed to act on other of the claims that were submitted.” The case was settled. [Davis v. CKE Rest Inc. Hlth, Case No. 6:04-cv-713, 2004.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, in 2005, settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a woman who was not hired because she has Treacher Collins Syndrome.

  • CKE Restaurants, in 2005, “agreed to pay $34,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that one of its restaurants repeatedly refused to hire an applicant because her face was disfigured. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and . . . CKE Restaurants . . . submitted the proposed agreement to [the] U.S. District Court in Kansas City. Besides the money, the settlement also . . . [called] for the chain to apologize in writing and further train its managers and human resources employees.” The applicant “has Treacher Collins Syndrome, a birth defect that caused a malformed cranial bone structure, asymmetrical eye placement and the absence of ears.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “claimed that Hardee’s officials threw away the woman’s application and that the discrimination constituted a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.” [“Hardee’s settles appearance discrimination lawsuit,” The Associated Press, September 12, 2005.]

In less than the first month of 2017, the latest in a string of thirty-three complaints were filed against “Puzder and his company” over sexual harassment, wage and hour violations, and unfair labor practices.

  • In January 2017, the latest in “a string of complaints against Puzder and his company” were filed. “They included four allegations of sexual harassment, which were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; twenty-two complaints of wage and hour violations, which were filed with state departments of labor; and seven unfair labor practices charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board. They were filed across ten states, including Alabama, California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.” [Barb Kucera, “Labor Secretary Nomination Draws Nationwide Protests,” Workday Minnesota, January 26, 2017.]

Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., in 2011, was sued for violating the rights of a hearing-impaired man who “uses a service dog.” A jury sided with the hearing-impaired man.

  • Alexander “Johnson, who is hearing-impaired and uses a service dog,” in 2011 sued Carl Karcher Enterprises, Inc., claiming he “was not permitted to eat inside a . . . Carl’s Jr. restaurant due to the presence of his service dog,” in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The “jury trial ended with a near unanimous verdict in favor of . . . Johnson.” [Law Offices of Morse Mehrban, APC, “Young Female Associate Slams Carl’s Jr. Defense Team in Near Unanimous Verdict,” news release, January 30, 2012.]

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants Has Faced Problems Surrounding Its Merger and with Irregularities in Financial Results That It Was Forced to Restate

Puzder’s CKE Restaurants, in 2004, had to restate financial results after numerous irregularities and accounting issues.

  • On November 29, 2004, CKE Restaurants announced it would restate certain financial results after the company and its auditor, KPMG LLP, found inconsistent handling of real-estate depreciation. CKE Restaurants announced the move after an independent audit found that the treatment of lease accounting and leasehold depreciation in prior financial statements required adjustment. CKE said accounting errors “resulted in an understatement of general and administrative expense of approximately $2.7 million in fiscal 2001, and an overstatement of depreciation expense of approximately $0.5 million in each fiscal year from and after fiscal 2002. During fiscal 2003 and early fiscal 2004, the Company also did not correctly account for certain software development costs in accordance with applicable accounting rules, resulting in an understatement of general and administrative expense of approximately $0.9 million in fiscal 2003 and $0.1 million in fiscal 2004.” [CKE Restaurants, “CKE Restaurants Announces Correction of Historical Errors Resulting in Adjustments to Financial Statements,” news release, November 23, 2004; and “Jack in the Box Inc. Announces Adjustments to Historical Financial Statements,” Business Wire, December 16, 2004.]

Puzder’s CKE was sued by shareholders for agreeing to a merger at a price they considered to be too low. The case was settled.

Class action lawsuits were filed by shareholders in 2010 against CKE for breaching “fiduciary duties regarding a prior merger agreement.” The “merger-related class action lawsuits filed in Delaware and California” were “settled and dismissed, according to CKE Restaurants, Inc.’s April 15, 2011, Form 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the year ended January 31, 2011.” [“CKE Restaurants: All Merger-Related Suits Are Dismissed,” Class Action Reporter, May 26, 2011.]

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