Andrew Puzder, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Labor, demeaned the workers at the fast food company he owns on multiple occasions, calling his employees the "best of the worst" of the employment pool, CNN reported Monday.
Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which runs Hardees and Carl's Jr., addressed its employees in a 2011 speech at Westmont College: "Most people were coming and working three months and then going somewhere else," he said. "It's not like if you run a fast food company you're hiring graduates of MIT or people that were gonna go work for Microsoft, you know."
"In the employment pool, you're hiring the best of the worst," he continued. "You know, it's kind of the bottom of the pool. And at Hardee's it was so bad, we were hiring the worst of the worst and hoping they would stay."
In another speech that year, Puzder made similarly disparaging comments about fast food workers to an audience at California State University.
"In fast food, you sort of compete for the best of the worst," Puzder said, according to CNN. "In other words, you're not getting the Microsoft guys. At Hardee's we were getting the worst of the worst. Nobody wanted to work at Hardee's. It was complicated to work there, we had to change our network systems, our menu was too complicated, we had to simplify it."
As labor secretary, Puzder would advise Trump on worker protection issues.
Democrats have railed against his nomination, saying he is against raising the minimum wage to $15, a number that's become the gold standard for Democratic politicians.
"I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it's very American," Puzder told Entrepreneur of the criticism. "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."
Puzder's ex wife, Lisa Fierstein, has accused him of domestic violence, once appearing in disguise on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about how Puzder allegedly physically abused her multiple times in the 1980s, Politico reported.
Fierstein retracted her allegations only recently, after Puzder was nominated to be labor secretary.