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
- July 21, 2014 at 5:01 PM EDT
President Obama signs an executive order extending workplace protections to LGBT employees of federal contractors and of the federal government.
- July 16, 2014 at 1:04 PM EDT
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.
- July 7, 2014 at 1:40 PM EDT
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.
- July 1, 2014 at 9:45 AM EDT
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.
- June 26, 2014 at 5:39 PM EDT
There is nothing more mainstream than ensuring that all families get the respect and protection they deserve.
- May 27, 2014 at 12:00 AM EDT
- May 20, 2014 at 6:31 PM EDT
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.
- April 28, 2014 at 5:34 PM EDT
- April 2, 2014 at 1:45 PM EDT
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez explains the importance of raising the minimum wage for American workers.
- March 28, 2014 at 6:53 PM EDT
Secretary Thomas E. Perez talks with 11-year-old Jesseca, who came out to a rally in Cleveland to show her support for raising the minimum wage, and giving millions of workers the dignity and respect a hard day’s work deserves.