February 19, 2017
By Stephanie West
Washington, DC – On the eve of Secretary of Labor nominee and CKE Restaurants CEO, Andrew Puzder’s confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP Committee, restaurant worker Jamie Dinkins will file sexual harassment charges against her employer, the CKE-owned Hardee’s fast food franchise.
A native of Piney Flats, Tennessee, Dirkins says she has been subjected to ongoing sexual harassment at work since the summer of 2016. She is not alone. A recent ROC United-led survey of CKE employees found high rates of sexual harassment, as well as age discrimination, and wage and hour violations. Dirkins’ motivation for filing this lawsuit is simple: “I just want to be safe at work.”
Andrew Puzder is one of the most active members of the National Restaurant Association (NRA), an organization that has opposed improvements in workplace conditions and minimum wage increases around the country, especially for tipped workers earning the subminimum wage. In fact, Puzder has explicitly lashed out at efforts to forge a fairer, safer restaurant industry, arguing machines would be much easier to deal with. “”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.”
Puzder’s antipathy for his own employees is evident in both his words and his actions. Under Puzder’s leadership, CKE Restaurants has established a record of multiple lawsuits for discriminating against workers and failing to pay overtime, and has been accused of firing workers for protesting against poverty wages. Considering the mission of the U.S. Department of Labor – promoting the welfare of wage earners, improving working conditions, and enforcing worker protections – these findings and Ms. Dirkins’ allegations call into question the viability of Andrew Puzder for the role of the nation’s Secretary of Labor.