Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, parent company of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's.
Photograph by Al Seib—LA Times via Getty Images
By Kristen Bellstrom
December 9, 2016

On Thursday, Donald Trump named Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Holdings, the parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, as his pick for secretary of labor. Puzder is a controversial choice for a host of reasons, including his attitudes about—and alleged treatment of—women.

Consider the infamous Carl’s Jr. ads. You may remember them—the spots featured scantily-clad celebrities like Kate Upton and Paris Hilton eating the company’s burgers in graphic closeup. The ads, which have been repeatedly compared to porn, inspired boycotts and criticism.

Puzder’s response? “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers,” said the CEO in a 2011 press release. “We target hungry guys, and we get young kids that want to be young hungry guys.” He continued defending the commercials as recently as last year, when he said: “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

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And his issues with women may go well beyond objectification. In the wake of Puzder’s nomination, the Riverfront Times reported that the CEO’s first wife accused him of domestic abuse in the 80s, when the police were twice called to the couple’s house. Puzder’s first wife accused him of domestic abuse in the ’80s, when the police were twice called to the couple’s house. The CEO has repeatedly denied the allegations, which were recently walked back his ex-wife.

It’s difficult to avoid drawing a parallel between Puzder and Trump, who has also been accused of objectification and abuse of women. (Charges the president-elect has vehemently denied.) Even without those echoes, it raises another red flag about the way Trump thinks about women. Clearly, he doesn’t believe that any of Puzder’s statements or behavior disqualify the CEO from serving in a post that’s tasked with protecting the rights of workers—including working women.


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