Today, after a long, contentious process, Thomas E. Perez was confirmed by a party-line vote as the U.S. Secretary of Labor. With a confirmed leader, the Department is now likely to push forward on a number of stalled initiatives, with Secretary Perez, of course, placing his imprimatur on the Department’s enforcement priorities and policy preferences.
Prior to his confirmation, Mr. Perez served as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. Previously, he was a member of the Montgomery (MD) County Council and served as the Secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR). Among other things, DLLR enforces workplace safety laws and wage and hour laws in the State of Maryland. Mr. Perez also served as a federal prosecutor.
Given Mr. Perez’s background, he is not likely to deviate much from the current direction of the Department, with a sharp focus on enforcement, particularly in the wage and hour arena. WHD has dramatically increased the number of investigative personnel around the country and has taken a more aggressive enforcement stand than it has in years past. Mr. Perez’s confirmation would seem to indicate a continued journey down that path.
In addition, the Department will now finalize the companionship services regulations and is likely to tackle some of the more controversial agenda items, such as the Right-to-Know rulemaking and a continued (and perhaps sharper) focus on issues related to the classification of independent contractors.