Earlier this week, we dove into CKE CEO Andrew Puzder’s corporate record, a protest at a Las Vegas Carl’s Jr., and the implications for the U.S. Labor Department under President Donald J. Trump. Today, we dig even deeper. I recently had the opportunity to speak with an employee at a Las Vegas area Carl’s Jr. Check out her story and her message to fellow Nevadans below the fold.
Recently, I spoke with a worker at one of the many Carl’s Jr. restaurants in the Las Vegas Valley. Because she still works at Carl’s Jr. and can not afford to be fired, we’ll call her Andrea.
During our conversation, Andrea gave me the rundown of what it’s like to be employed by CKE. Spoiler alert: It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty, and it certainly isn’t lucrative for the vast majority of CKE’s workforce.
I asked Andrea about the allegations we discussed in our previous story. Are CKE employees actually denied breaks? Have CKE managers denied workers compensation for merely taking lunch breaks they’re legally entitled to? Does CKE employees truly pay workers so little?
Andrea confirmed all these reports, and then some. Andrea confirmed management has denied her breaks and takes her off the clock during lunch breaks. She then addressed the issue of her own pay.
“After almost 11 years, I’m just earning a salary of $ 8.55 an hour, just 30 cents more than the minimum wage in the State of Nevada. This means that I only earn about $ 450 every two weeks when my rent costs me $ 610 per month. My two children and I were recently homeless and sleeping on the floor of a friend ‘s house because it was not enough with the salary I earn.”
Andrea added that management at the Carl’s Jr. where she works has a habit of not hiring enough workers. When one puts the pieces of the puzzle together in a CKE restaurant hiring too few workers while mistreating the workers it does have, one can see the larger picture of an environment that’s incredibly taxing upon the people who work there.
And that’s not all. Andrea then shared me another terribly dark secret of CKE.
Andrea herself is an immigrant, and she knows of other immigrant workers at CKE restaurants. As harshly as CKE restaurants treat U.S. born workers, immigrant workers are at risk of even harsher treatment.
One day at the Carl’s Jr. where Andrea works, a manager threatened to call ICE (the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency) on another employee. That manager may no longer work there, but this was not an isolated incident. According to Andrea, other managers have threatened immigrant workers before. She then added that she noticed managers dishing out more severe punishment to her and other immigrant workers during her time at Carl’s Jr.
Andrea did her best to maintain her composure during our interview. Frankly, it was becoming more difficult for me to maintain my composure as she was describing her workplace environment.
“If these are the conditions for me as an employee of almost 11 years under the command of Andrew Puzder, imagine how all the rest of the workers in this country will fare if Congress approves him as Labor Secretary! It is assumed that the Labor Department exists to protect all workers. If Puzder will not protect me as his employee, how can we trust him to protect the rest of America’s workers?”
Andrea closed our interview with this simple, yet very poignant, message. “I don’t want to be treated like an animal. I want Andrew Puzder to put his hand on his conscience.”
“If it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face.” This is one of several famous Carl’s Jr. slogans. Under Puzder’s reign, CKE has aimed to make the Carl’s Jr. brand edgier and more glamorous. Yet behind the scenes and away from the celebrity commercial shoots, working at Carl’s Jr. isn’t as glamorous as Paris Hilton would have us believe. If we’re to believe Andrea and the other CKE workers who have come forward in recent weeks with some very serious allegations, Puzder would be in the incredibly awkward position of being tasked to enforce the very labor laws his own company violated.
If Andrew Puzder can’t manage his own place, as Andrea and other Carl’s Jr. employees have said, does he belong in the U.S. Labor Department? That’s a question Puzder himself, President Trump, and the U.S. Senate must answer in the coming days.