Think Progress • Bryce Covert
On Thursday, workers at restaurants owned by CKE restaurants, the chain where Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder is CEO, filed 33 complaints against the company.
Their suits include four allegations of sexual harassment, which were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; 22 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.
“Several months ago my shift-manager asked me for a kiss, and when I said no he told me that unless I started giving him what he wanted, he was going to start taking it,” said Ceatana Cardona, one of the Hardee’s workers involved in the complaints from Tampa, FL, in a statement. But she said the company did nothing when she complained. Another homosexual male Carl’s Jr. worker in Oakland, CA, described being harassed by his manager, who told his coworkers and customers that he “likes boys” and used a feminized version of his name.
Workers also described being denied their full pay. “Recently the restaurant I worked at went an entire month without paying me a dime, and they only agreed to pay me after I stopped coming to work in protest,” said Angel Gallegos, a Carl’s Jr. employee in Los Angeles, CA, in a statement. “If Andy Puzder can’t be trusted to pay his workers what they’ve earned, why should we expect him to enforce laws meant to protect working Americans?” Another from Whittier, CA claims to have gone a month without a paycheck, while workers in Durham, NC say that because they were paid with debit cards that included transaction fees, their hourly pay ended up falling below the $7.25 minimum wage.
The complaints also allege that employees were threatened, intimidated, and illegally surveilled. Fight for 15 claims to have obtained an internal memofrom corporate to franchisees outlining a company policy that workers are not allowed to speak to the press “or any individual asking questions about our operations,” adding, “The press is NOT our friend!” It’s unclear when the memo was sent or who it came from, other than a signature reading Julie.
CKE Restaurants and the Trump administration could not be immediately reached for comment.