Senate Committee Votes to Advance Perez Nomination for DOL Secretary

In an expectedly party-line vote of 12-10, the Senate Committee on Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions (HELP) endorsed Thomas Perez for the position of Secretary of Labor, vacated by Hilda Solis in January of this year.  The vote brings the White House nominee one step closer to approval for the cabinet position, with the full Senate set to vote on Perez in the coming weeks.

As secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor from 2006 to 2009, Perez successfully spearheaded legislation to crack down on misclassification of employees as independent contractors by their employers.  If ultimately confirmed, Perez would likely play a key role in DOL’s rigorous investigations with the Internal Revenue Service of worker misclassification as part of the Department’s Misclassification Initiative, launched in 2011.  Electrical contractors, as most employers, understand and comply with the basic wage and hour law, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). However, some are becoming targets of increasing investigations and litigation by DOL for employee misclassification or individual suits for violations. A helpful primer for IEC members on avoiding erroneous classification is available via IEC Georgia, by clicking here.

Republican opposition to Perez, who has been further criticized by members of both the House and Senate for a lack of transparency and undue use of influence in decisions made during his tenure as head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ), has continued to mount over the past two months. In April, 43 House Republicans sent a letter to members of the Senate asking them to halt the appointment of Perez to the Department of Labor (DOL). A HELP Committee vote on Perez was twice delayed by procedural actions, and several Republican Senators have alluded to a potential hold placed on the nominee or a filibuster of the floor vote.