On Thursday, Trump announced that he would be nominating CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder to serve as his labor secretary. Not only has Puzder opposed workers’ attempts to earn higher wages and boasted that he’d replace workers with robots, but he also seems to share the same sexist views as the future president.
Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., the restaurants operated by CKE, are both known for their incredibly sexist and hyper-sexualized ad campaigns. The chains are notorious for using supermodels to sell its fast food, featuring them splayed across the hoods of cars holding burgers or licking ketchup off their bodies.
In one 2009 ad, Kim Kardashian seductively ate a salad in bed as dressing dripped down her nightgown. “Who says salads can’t be hot?” the voice-over asks. In another released this year, three women feed each other bacon while wearing skimpy bikinis.
— Hardee's (@Hardees) July 26, 2016
The fast food chains have continuously released these ads since 2005, even when research shows that most Americans find them offensive. According to a market research firm that tested an ad showing model Charlotte McKinney walking, seemingly naked, through a farmer’s market, 52 percent of viewers found the ad offensive and 51 percent found it irritating and annoying.
Yet as Mic reported, Puzder — who has led the company since 2000 — has defended the strategy. “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” he told Entrepreneur last year. “I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.”
He also claimed that he would take issue if people were not offended by the ads.
“If you don’t complain, I go to the head of marketing and say, ‘What’s wrong with our ads?’” he said.
Puzder’s sexism is concerning given the role he would play in establishing federal labor policy. The Department of Labor is responsible for enforcing discrimination laws among any company that contracts with or gets assistance from the U.S. government. Currently Labor Secretary Tom Perez pushed President Obama to sign an executive order on equal pay that would require companies with 100 employees or more to report to the federal government how much they pay their employees broken down by race, gender, and ethnicity. Perez said the data would help employers “prevent pay discrimination in their workplaces.”
As labor secretary, Puzder will also oversee the Women’s Bureau, the only federal agency devoted exclusively to the concerns of women in the labor force. The agency is tasked with protecting female workers on issues including paid leave, protections for women who are pregnant or nursing, and eliminating the gender wage gap.
Puzder will also oversee a labor force in which women are making up a greater share. As of 2010, women made up 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force, and women are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.