Alexander Acosta Confirmed as Secretary of Labor

By Kathryn O'Connor, PHR, SHRM-CP, CCP, GRP, Director, Compensation Services
Published May 16, 2017

Secretary of LaborLate last month, the U.S. Senate confirmed Alexander Acosta to be the next Secretary of Labor by a vote of 60-38. Acosta is the last cabinet member to be appointed to President Trump’s team. A former member of the National Labor Relations Board and Dean of the Florida International University College of Law in Miami, Acosta was nominated to be Labor Secretary in February.

Now that Acosta has been affirmed, he must nominate and/or appoint critical top staff members to the Department of Labor (DOL) (including the Department of Labor Wage & Hour Division Administrator and Solicitor of Labor), while simultaneously planning for a significant decrease in the DOL’s 2018 funding. Acosta will also likely be the driving force behind key policy decisions.

One key decision that Acosta must address is the DOL’s next course of action regarding the 2016 changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations. The amended regulations included a significant change to the salary threshold, moving from $455 to $913 per week ($47,476 per year).  However, in November, prior to the amended rules’ effective date, a federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction halting their implementation. The DOL under President Obama filed an appeal to the decision, but after President Trump was inaugurated in January, further action on the suit had been repeatedly delayed.  The Trump administration, in documents filed in conjunction with the lawsuit, has cited the need to “allow incoming leadership personnel adequate time to consider the issues.” 

It is unclear if the DOL will continue to appeal the temporary injunction placed on the FLSA overtime rules or take other steps to address the rules. Acosta previously commented that he was open to adjusting the FLSA salary threshold to approximately $33,000 a year.

The Management Association will continue to follow this important topic and will report future developments. Questions on this topic can be directed to the Management Association’s compensation professionals at info@hrsource.org or at 800-448-4584.

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