Sixty-six per cent of women working at Hardee’s or Carl’s Jr. have encountered unwanted sexual behaviour on the job, according to a new report that has been released following Donald Trump’s nomination of the chains’ CEO Andy Puzder to Secretary of Labour.
Women working at CKE Restaurants were 50% more likely than the average fast-food worker to encounter sexual harassment at work, according to a report released Tuesday from workers’ rights nonprofit Restaurant Opportunities Centres (ROC) United.
Sexual harassment is a common problem in the restaurant industry, with roughly 40% of female fast-food workers facing harassment such as sexual teasing, unwanted touching, and invasive questions on the job, according to a survey by Hart Research.
ROC’s report was collected through 564 surveys completed by Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s members who the nonprofit reached out to via social media.
In addition to sexual harassment, the report found that 28% of respondents said they had worked off-the-clock and roughly 33% reported wage theft violations, such as not receiving or overtime pay — figures that actual beat fast-food industry averages.
The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit managed by the International Franchise Association (IFA), called the report’s conclusions into question. On Tuesday, the EPI released the results of its own survey, in which 93% of female CKE employees reported tha they “feel safe and respected in this working environment.”
The EPI’s data was collected via 242 telephone interviews with Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees in early January.
ROC argues that the reports provides evidence that Puzder, as CEO of CKE, is unfit to serve as the Secretary of Labour.
“The job of the Secretary of Labour is to protect our nation’s most vulnerable workers, including tipped workers,” Saru Jayaraman, ROC United co-founder and co-director, said in a statement. “Like the NRA, Puzder’s stated positions include total opposition to raising the minimum wage and earned sick time, and threats to replace restaurant workers with machines. Quite simply, Puzder is the last person that should fill this role.”
Democrats plan to use the ROC report to highlight potential issues with Puzder’s confirmation as Secretary of Labour, with members of Congress, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, hosting a forum on Tuesday to discuss the results of the report. Warren and other members of Congress have called for Puzder’s employees to be allowed to speak at Puzder’s confirmation hearing.
Many progressives spoke out against Puzder’s nomination following its announcement in early December. While restaurant industry groups such as the IFA have supported Puzder, critics have taken issue with Puzder’s history of opposition to regulation that would increase overtime pay and raise the minimum wage, his interest in investing in automation, and support of sexualized marketing.
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have come under fire for its sexual advertising in the past, with commercials starring scantily-clad women drawing protest from the conservative group One Million Mums and feminist website Jezebel. Puzder has long welcomed the protest.
“I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American,” Puzder told Entrepreneur in 2015.
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