White House Profile
Secretary Thomas E. Perez
Secretary of Labor

Thomas E. Perez was nominated by President Obama to serve as the nation's 26th Secretary of Labor, and was sworn in on July 23, 2013.

Previously Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice. The Civil Rights Division enforces federal laws that prohibit discrimination and uphold the civil and constitutional rights of all who live in America. During his tenure of nearly four years, Perez oversaw the effort to restore and expand the division's achievements. Under his leadership as Assistant Attorney General, the division successfully implemented the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act; expanded equal housing opportunity by bringing and settling the largest fair-lending cases in history; protected schoolchildren from discrimination, bullying and harassment; dramatically expanded access to employment, housing and educational opportunities for people with disabilities; protected the right to vote for all eligible voters free from discrimination; took record-setting efforts to ensure that communities have effective and democratically accountable policing; and safeguarded the employment, housing, fair lending and voting rights of service members. He also expanded the division's partnerships across federal agencies to address cross-cutting challenges in human trafficking, employment discrimination and fair lending, among others.

Perez has spent his entire career in public service. He previously served as the Secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino ever elected to the Council, and served as Council president in 2005. Earlier in his career, he spent 12 years in federal public service, most as a career attorney with the Civil Rights Division. As a federal prosecutor for the division, he prosecuted and supervised the prosecution of some of the Justice Department's most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially-motivated crime spree.

He later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. Among other responsibilities, he chaired the interagency Worker Exploitation Task Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable workers. He also served as special counsel to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, and was Senator Kennedy's principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues. For the final two years of the Clinton administration, he served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Perez was a law professor for six years at the University of Maryland School of Law and was a part-time professor at the George Washington School of Public Health. He received a bachelor's degree from Brown University in 1983. In 1987 he received both a master's of public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. He lives in Maryland with his wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier, an attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and their three children.

Secretary Thomas E. Perez's Posts

  • How $10.10 Would Affect You:

    The White House released a short whiteboard video today explaining why we need to give Americans a raise -- and Secretary Perez sent this message to the White House email list to highlight the video.


  • Community Colleges: The Secret Sauce

    The program is called TAACCCT -- that stands for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training. As acronyms go, I’m not going to say it’s our very best work. But as a commitment to building a 21st century workforce, as a tool to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow, it is second-to-none.


  • Guess Who’s Leading on Paid Leave? (Hint: Not Us)

    The United States is distressingly behind the curve on paid family leave.


  • Pride and Opportunity

    President Obama signs an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors and of the federal government.


  • Giving Working Families a Voice

    As we lean in on paid leave and these other issues, we need everyone – unions, employers, workers, and policymakers – working together on win-win solutions to make our families stronger, our workplaces more productive, and our economy more competitive in the 21st century.


  • States Lead on Minimum Wage. Is Congress Listening?

    Congress is back in session, and if members have been listening to their constituents they will move quickly to raise the federal minimum wage, which has lost 20 percent of its purchasing power since the 1980s. But absent action from Capitol Hill, states are taking up the slack.


  • Justice and Identity

    As we celebrate Pride Month and approach the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, the Labor Department is reaffirming its commitment to equal opportunity for all.


  • Securing the Rights of All American Families

    There is nothing more mainstream than ensuring that all families get the respect and protection they deserve.


  • The Most Important Family Value


  • Immigration

    Pursuing the American Dream with Dignity

    Tom Perez on eight inspirational young people of Asian heritage who have benefited under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (known as DACA), a program implemented in 2012 by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


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