• Perez Nominated To Labor; Conflict Broils
  • April 25, 2013 | Author: David P. Phippen
  • Law Firm: Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP - Fairfax Office
  • On March 18, President Obama nominated Thomas E. Perez to become Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. Perez is currently the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Like many recent nominees, Mr. Perez has impressive academic and political credentials but essentially little or no private sector experience. Among numerous positions, he was a prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division and was Maryland's Secretary of Labor, with wage and hour enforcement being one of his responsibilities. He was special counsel and advisor to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues, and served under former Attorney General Janet Reno during the Clinton Administration. His published quotes indicate that he will be a reliable friend of organized labor.

    Republicans in the Senate may make the confirmation process difficult for Perez due to vocal and growing concerns about his past dealings in the Civil Rights Division that involve alleged brokering of special inside deals to avoid some litigation that the Division feared losing. Even more recently, the Republicans have attacked Perez for using his personal email for government business.

    If confirmed, Perez could have a significant impact on important regulatory and enforcement matters, including programs regarding employees misclassified as "independent contractors," worker safety, and new proposed "persuader" regulations under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. There is no doubt that Perez knows the field and comes with a perspective more closely aligned with the interests of organized labor than with the interests of private-sector employers.