President Donald Trump’s pick for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, has withdrawn his name from consideration. His decision follows months of scrutiny regarding his ability to protect workers as the head of the Department of Labor.
I am withdrawing my nomination for Secretary of Labor. I’m honored to have been considered and am grateful to all who have supported me.
— Andy Puzder (@AndyPuzder) February 15, 2017
Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast-food chains such as Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s that are known for their controversial advertising campaigns. The businessman is a vocal critic of federal minimum wage increases and expanded eligibility for overtime pay. Under his leadership, CKE Restaurants was subject to a series of class action lawsuits that alleged unfair payment and treatment of employees.
In an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal in 2015, Puzder advocated for a “path to legal status” for undocumented immigrants — including completing background checks, learning English and paying fines — provided they agree “to accept responsibility for their actions and take their consequences.”
Earlier this month, Puzder admitted to hiring an undocumented worker to be his housekeeper. In a statement, he said, “My wife and I employed a housekeeper for a few years, during which I was unaware that she was not legally permitted to work in the U.S. … When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status.”
Puzder has also expressed opinions about the opportunity to exchange human employees for automated machines in the food industry. “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 told Business Insider last year.
In 1986, Puzder’s ex-wife Lisa Fierstein accused him of “striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders and neck, without provocation or cause,” The New York Times reported. In 1990, Fierstein appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and spoke about her experience with domestic violence under a pseudonym. Fierstein has since retracted those allegations.
Earlier this week, Winfrey submitted the footage from that episode to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.