New claims about burger mogul Andrew Puzder surfaced this week.
Andrew Puzder’s confirmation hearing may be delayed until February, but two new reports have some women wanting answers right now.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that the labor secretary nominee’s hearing will be pushed back to accommodate the delayed hearing of Betsy DeVos. That’s welcome news for Puzder’s opponents in the Senate, who want to slow down the hearing process. “Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist,” incoming Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told The Washington Post.
Party politics aside, recent allegations about the fast food CEO (his company CKE Restaurants owns Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, among other chains) have red some raised flags—particularly with women.
Alleged domestic abuse
On Tuesday, Politico reported that Lisa Fierstein, the ex-wife of the labor secretary pick, appeared in disguise on The Oprah Winfrey Show as an anonymous victim of domestic violence in the 1980s, a revelation that may shed new light on her previously reported allegations that Puzder assaulted her multiple times during that period.
Those accusations first appeared in the press when the couple was getting divorced. But Fierstein retracted them last November, writing in an email to Puzder, “You were not abusive. I will most definitely confirm to anyone who may ask that in no way was there abuse.” She also suggested that she’d filed the allegations to help improve her position in the divorce.
But as Politico notes, the Oprah appearance raises the question of how appearing anonymously on the show would help with her divorce proceedings. She wore a wig and glasses on the program, and went only by the name “Ann.”
“This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to smear the good name of an individual who has shown nothing but dedication to creating jobs, growing the economy and championing women in his businesses and investments,” a transition aide wrote in an email to Fortune.
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Reports of harassment at his company
Also on Tuesday, a new survey released by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, a non-profit that advocates for restaurant workers’ rights, showed that 66% of women at CKE Restaurants reported experiencing unwanted sexual behaviors at work. That’s compared to 40% of women in the fast food industry overall, according to a national survey from October of last year. The survey included 564 responses from CKE Restaurants workers, 76% of whom were women.
In an email, a transition aide called the survey a “flagrant example of ‘fake news’” due to it being “paid for by unions and special interests opposed to Andy Puzder’s nomination” and a “deliberate attempt to smear CKE and Mr. Puzder.”
This week’s news is just the latest in Puzder’s long history of women problems. His most famous anti-feminist moment is perhaps a comment he made in 2011, when he released a statement saying “We believe in putting hot models in our commercials, because ugly ones don’t sell burgers.” The statement was a response to criticism of a Carl’s Jr.’s ad campaign that featured bikini-clad celebrities eating burgers in an overtly sexual way. He doubled down on this sentiment in 2015, telling Entrepreneur, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”
The last straw for some women is Puzder’s work as an anti-abortion activist. In his past life as a lawyer, Puzder wrote a Missouri law that restricted women’s access to abortion. The 1986 law asserted that “the life of each human being begins at conception” and that “unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being” and was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 1989 Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision, according to Mother Jones.