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Alexander Acosta approved by Senate as Secretary of the Labor


Trump’s new Labor Chief is the first Latino member of Trump’s cabinet.

With a vote of 60-38 the U.S. Senate approved Alexander Acosta, the dean of Florida International University Law School, to lead the Department of Labor (DOL).  The nomination was approved by a 12-11 party line vote in late March. 

Acosta served on the NLRB for about eight months beginning in December 2002, at which time he participated in more than 125 decisions.  After that stint, he was chosen by Bush in 2003 to serve as head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, being the first Hispanic to hold that position.  He remained at the DOJ for about two years before becoming U.S. attorney in South Florida. Harvard-educated Acosta also practiced in private practice in the mid-1990s and served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

One of Acosta’s first issues to address that have been put on the back burner awaiting a labor secretary is the fate of DOL’s controversial overtime rule.  The rule was issued by the Obama administration in May 2016 and expanded overtime protections under the FLSA.  The rule doubled the minimum salary threshold required to qualify for the FLSA’s white-collar exemption to $47,476 per year and increased the overtime eligibility threshold for highly compensation workers form $100k to $134k.  The rule was enjoined by a Texas federal judge just days before its December 1st effective date.  Acosta acknowledged that a raise was due; however, he cautioned that such a sudden leap was excessive.

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