Yesterday, the Senate confirmed R. Alexander Acosta (R) to become the new Secretary of Labor by a vote of 60-38. Acosta’s appointment and confirmation come after President Donald J. Trump’s prior nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration.
After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1994, Acosta served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito, then a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Following his clerkship in 1995, Acosta worked for a law firm in D.C. specializing in labor and employment. Acosta was eventually appointed by President George W. Bush to the National Labor Relations Board from 2002 to 2003, and later became the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. From 2005-2009, Acosta served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. From 2009 until his confirmation, Acosta served as the Dean for the Florida International University College of Law. Acosta is a native of Florida, and son of Cuban immigrants. Acosta is also the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet.
Acosta’s impact on employers and the future of the Department of Labor remain to be seen. Perhaps the largest issue facing Mr. Acosta is the Texas federal court’s decision to block the Department of Labor from enforcing new regulations that would have drastically reduced the number of white collar employees who are exempt from overtime.
Sheppard Mullin will continue to monitor developments at the Department of Labor, and will provide updates as appropriate.