Embattled Labor Nominee Bows Out

By: Brent Sailhamer, Director of Government Affairs, ABC Keystone

Just weeks after being nominated by President Trump to head the U.S Department of Labor, CKE Restaurants CEO Andy Puzder is out. His withdrawal came just one day before his scheduled Senate confirmation hearing, which was rumored to be plagued with uncertain Republicans who had many questions about the nominee’s background and business practices.

Andy PuzderPuzder came under fire immediately after his nomination in January as critics delved into the business practices of CKE Restaurants under his leadership. The restaurant chain, which owns Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., was the source of dozens of labor violation claims in several states, including wage and hour violations. Supporters of Puzder labeled the claims as baseless, asserting that opposition to the nomination was actually grounded in his vocal opposition to increased federal minimum wage proposals and the Affordable Care Act. 

As the process continued, Puzder reportedly delayed submission of his ethics and personal background paperwork, creating delays in the nomination hearing schedule. Late last week, critics blasted Puzder again, when he admitted that he had previously employed an illegal immigrant as his housekeeper. The final straw for Puzder among Senate Republicans came this week, when Oprah Winfrey delivered copies of an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pension Committee. The episode, which aired years ago, featured a woman in disguise who talked openly about the repeated physical abuse she had endured by her husband, who was a well-respected business CEO. Later, it was revealed that the woman was Puzder’s wife and, although she refuted the claims she had made on the show, the damage was done.

Puzder withdrew his nomination on Wednesday afternoon, marking the first Trump nominee to fall through. The Trump administration acted swiftly, nominating former U.S. Attorney and National Labor Relations Board member R. Alexander Acosta as his replacement. Thursday’s announcement offers a qualified, respected scholar on labor issues. Acosta currently serves as the dean of the Florida International University’s College of Law.