Trump Nominates Alex Acosta for Secretary of Labor

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

February 17, 2017

President Trump moved quickly to fill the Secretary of Labor role, nominating Alexander (Alex) Acosta less than 24 hours after his first nominee, CKE Restaurants CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew when it appeared he did not have the votes to be confirmed by the Senate. Acosta would be the first Latino member of Trump's cabinet if confirmed.

Acosta previously served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and made history as the first Hispanic man to hold the rank of assistant attorney general when he served in the Department of Justice's civil rights division under President George W. Bush. He also has taught employment law and served as dean of the Florida International University law school for the last eight years.

"This is someone who is confirmable," said Steven Suflas, managing partner of Ballard Spahr's Denver office. "Acosta's credentials are more in the mainstream than Puzder's with his experience at the NLRB and in the Bush Department of Labor."

Suflas predicts that the Department of Labor will return to what he sees as its more traditional role of helping employers comply with the law. "It will be more of a partnership with less changes being imposed on employers than what we saw [with the Obama administration]," said Suflas. "My clients just want to know what they can and cannot do, and Acosta will bring more predictability."

Acosta began his career as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito when Alito was a federal appeals judge on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals. He then specialized in employment and labor issues at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, DC.