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Labor Secretary Nominee’s Company Has Been a Discrimination Lawsuit Magnet

Andrew Puzder Oversaw Highest Rate of Federal Job Bias Claims Among Big Burger Chains


Discrimination Chart 2014Source: U.S. Courts’ PACER Service
2014 sales figures from QSR

A Capital & Main analysis has found that since Andrew Puzder became CEO of CKE Restaurants Inc. in 2000, the company, and its Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands, have drawn the highest rate of federal employment discrimination and civil rights lawsuits among major U.S. burger chains.

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The lawsuits encompass allegations of racial and gender discrimination, and of sexual harassment. Under Puzder, CKE and Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s restaurants were sued for employment discrimination at nearly twice the rate of McDonald’s and more than double that of Jack in the Box, heading a list that includes Wendy’s, Burger King and four other chains, all of which had annual sales of more than $1 billion in 2014. CKE and its Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands had the highest rate, when adjusted for revenue. (The analysis for all of the burger chains included both corporate-owned and franchised restaurants.)

Puzder, who was chosen by President Donald Trump to be the new secretary of labor, is scheduled to appear before the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for confirmation hearings February 2. The committee, chaired by Republican Lamar Alexander, includes moderate GOP Senator Susan Collins, who was among 10 Republican senators who voted in 2013 for anti-workplace-discrimination legislation. “The workplace is simply no place for discrimination,” Collins said at the time of the vote.

Senators Orrin Hatch and Lisa Murkowski, who also sit on the HELP committee, joined Collins in voting for the anti-discrimination bill. Another committee member, Senator Tim Scott, sponsored a 2014 resolution to encourage racial diversity in the workplace and has spoken out forcefully against racial discrimination by law enforcement agencies. The 11-member Democratic minority includes Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Senator Tim Kaine.

There is little precedent for an American labor secretary to be associated with such an extensive record of alleged employment discrimination. If confirmed, Puzder would head the U.S. Department of Labor, which is charged with enforcing many of the nation’s workplace-protection laws.


Additional reporting by Roxane Auer.

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