Carl's Jr. parent company names CEO to replace Andy Puzder

Markets Associated Press

The parent company of the Carl's Jr. and Hardee's chains on Tuesday named a new CEO to replace Andy Puzder, who last month withdrew his nomination to be Labor Secretary under President Donald Trump.

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CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc. says Puzder will be replaced in April by Jason Marker, who most recently was president of Yum Brands Inc.'s Kentucky Fried Chicken in the United States.

Puzder withdrew his nomination to be Labor Secretary in February after Senate Republicans became troubled about his acknowledgement that he belatedly paid taxes on a former housekeeper who was not authorized to work in the United States. Puzder's opposition to significant minimum wage hikes and what he called "overregulation" rankled labor groups and Democrats, who questioned his ability to oversee the agency in charge of protecting worker rights.

His past comments on automation in the restaurant industry also became a point of contention. "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," he had said about replacing employees with automation in an interview with Business Insider.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Puzder said the nomination process was not a factor in his stepping down as CEO of CKE, and that he told the company he wanted to retire when his four-year contract was up at the end of this year.

"I decided about a year ago that I've been CEO long enough," he said, noting that he will turn 67 in July.

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Puzder said he signed a contract to write a book about economic issues, and that he will continue writing opinion pieces, doing TV interviews and speaking at colleges. He said he hasn't decided whether he will continue to be involved in the fast-food industry.

CKE was acquired by private equity firm Roark Capital in 2013.