Hall of Secretaries: Thomas E. Perez

Secretary Thomas E. Perez

Tenure: July 23, 2013 to January 20, 2017

A resident of Maryland, Secretary Perez was born and raised in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from Brown University, Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Secretary Perez spent decades in public service, as a civil rights attorney at the Department of Justice and later as the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. He also held leadership roles in local and state government.

Taking office in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Secretary Perez oversaw the longest streak of private sector job growth on record. He worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone has a shot at the American Dream. Under Secretary Perez’s leadership, the Department transformed the nation’s job training programs to help workers compete for 21st century careers. He dedicated every day as Secretary to improving the lives of America’s workers: pushing for new overtime rules to ensure every worker gets a fair day’s pay for a long day’s work; extending minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers; overseeing new rules to protect workers’ hard-earned retirement savings; and establishing new worker safety rules, including a long overdue updated standard for silica dust. During his tenure, the Department also established rules to raise wages, provide paid sick leave, and ensure employment protections for employees of federal contractors. Secretary Perez also engineered a dramatic turnaround in the Department’s employee engagement. In the words of President Obama: “[He] has been one of the best Secretaries of Labor in our history. If you look at his body of work on behalf of working people... he has been extraordinary.”

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