Andrew Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurant Holdings (CKE), which owns several fast food chains including Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, has been nominated to be Secretary of Labor by President-Elect Donald Trump. The Secretary of Labor is the nation’s most senior official tasked with ensuring the well-being of workers and advancing their employment opportunities, and is therefore of great importance to women and their families. The Secretary of Labor oversees the Department of Labor’s interpretation and enforcement of a number of laws vital to women’s economic security and right to be free from discrimination, such as the minimum wage and overtime protections in the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Affordable Care Act, and executive orders prohibiting employment discrimination by federal contractors and setting labor standards for federal contractors’ employees, including protection of the right to earn paid sick days.
Mr. Puzder’s record demonstrates that he should not be confirmed to this important position.
- Puzder is an opponent of workplace policies crucial to raising women’s wages. Mr. Puzder has attacked policies that would raise women’s wages. The overrepresentation of women in low-wage jobs, including minimum wage and sub-minimum wage positions, is an important driver of the gender wage gap. Because women are overrepresented in low-wage jobs, they are especially vulnerable to wage theft, and have a particular stake in raising the minimum wage and in robust overtime protections. Mr. Puzder has publicly and consistently opposed raising the minimum wage — a raise which, particularly if paired with the elimination of the separate, lower minimum wage for tipped workers, would help lift many women and the families they support out of poverty. Mr. Puzder also opposes the current Department of Labor’s rule expanding eligibility for overtime pay, which would benefit an estimated 12.5 million modestly paid U.S. workers. He has argued that paying overtime decreases employees’ “sense of accomplishment,” and has falsely suggested that ineligibility for overtime pay ensures flexible schedules for workers. As Secretary of Labor, Mr. Puzder would be charged with enforcing the wage and hour protections his companies routinely violate: one recent investigation found that 60 percent of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants had at least one wage and hour violation, and under Mr. Puzder’s leadership, CKE has paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits alleging violations of California’s wage and hour laws, including wage theft.