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Thomas E. Perez
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.

Perez has spent his entire career in public service. Most recently, he 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.

Previously he served as the secretary of Maryland's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Maryland’s DLLR protects consumers through the enforcement of a wide range of consumer rights laws, including the mortgage setting; enforces workplace safety laws that provide critical safeguards to workers and communities; enforces wage and hour and other worker protection laws that ensure wage security; and collaborates with businesses and workers to address critical workforce development needs and build a world-class workforce.

From 2002-2006, Perez 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. 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 also 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.

Entries by Thomas E. Perez

What Do Paid Leave and a Box Full of Kittens Have in Common?

(0) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 10:51 AM

Paid family leave is as popular as vanilla ice cream and a boxful of kittens. In a CBS-New York Times poll from late last month, 80 percent of people support a paid family leave law and 85 percent believe we should have paid sick leave!


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Battling a Damaging Workplace Trend

(2) Comments | Posted April 23, 2015 | 4:55 PM

One of the most pervasive and damaging trends we are seeing in the 21st-century workplace is the deliberate misclassification of workers by employers looking to shift responsibility and cut costs.

Two judgments announced this week in Utah and Arizona demonstrate our commitment to cracking down on this practice,...

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Another Step Toward Equality for LGBT Workers

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2015 | 8:48 AM

Today, President Obama's Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination goes into effect. It prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Because of this Executive Order, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people employed by federal contractors across the country will...

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FMLA Updated for a Modern Family

(2) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 12:12 PM

Todd and TR met more than seven years ago in Minneapolis, and it wasn't long before they were planning a future together. In 2011, they held a private commitment ceremony, and that same year their relationship was given civil union status by the state of Illinois, where they had moved...

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Celebrating a Labor Legend During Black History Month

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 3:47 PM

2015-02-09-APhilipRandolphspeaking.jpgDuring Black History Month, I'm reminded yet again of the ways that the struggle for civil rights is interwoven with the struggle for workers' rights. Perhaps no one better personifies that link than A. Philip Randolph, the first African-American inducted...

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'All Labor Has Dignity': King's Other Legacy

(7) Comments | Posted January 16, 2015 | 10:08 AM


A few weeks ago, I saw Selma, a remarkable movie about the unbreakable persistence and moral leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the struggle to secure voting rights for African-Americans in the Jim Crow South.

But what the movie didn't...

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A Working Father's Response

(21) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 3:16 PM

Editor's note: The following blog post is a response to the Huffington Post blogger Regan Long's "A Working Mother's Plea to the President."

Dear Regan:

I was truly moved by your anguish about leaving your new baby home so you could return to your teaching...

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

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 2:04 PM

Earlier this month, I was in Melbourne, Australia representing our government at a meeting of Labor Ministers of the world's 20 major economies.

After sitting down with my G20 counterparts and learning more about their policies relating to work and workplaces, my main takeaway is that the United States...

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Labor Day: Upholding the Promise of Opportunity

(3) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 2:47 PM

Each year, Labor Day gives us an opportunity to recognize the invaluable contributions that working men and women make to our nation, our economy and our collective prosperity. It gives us a chance to show gratitude for workers' grit, dedication, ingenuity and strength, which define our nation's character....

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Seeking Jobs as Well as Justice

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 6:48 PM

On July 2, 1964, President Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act. Its enactment, following the longest continuous debate in the history of the U.S. Senate, enshrined into law the basic principle upon which our country was founded -- that all people are created equal.

Tomorrow, we will celebrate...

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The Most Important Family Value

(2) Comments | Posted May 27, 2014 | 10:46 AM

On the first Friday of every month, the Labor Department announces new employment numbers that help set the tone for the conversation about our economy and where it's headed.

But that's not the only set of data on my mind. My older daughter, who will leave for college in...

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Investing in Skills to Build a Secure Middle Class

(12) Comments | Posted April 17, 2014 | 11:59 AM

In today's economy, access to training for in-demand jobs can help American workers punch their tickets to the middle class, and it can help American businesses continue to grow. However, as our economy continues to expand, too many businesses can't find the skilled workers they need, and too many people...

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The Cause He Died For

(1) Comments | Posted April 4, 2014 | 2:10 PM

It's been 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson announced his "War on Poverty." It was a time when the nation redefined its values, extending to millions of people the chance at last to be a part of the American Dream. A half century later, we have made enormous progress. But...

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Latinos and the Affordable Care Act: One Step Closer to the American Dream

(6) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 7:12 PM

What do Latinos want? That seems to be the question increasingly asked by corporations, the media, elected officials and others. As Latino population numbers, political power and cultural influence grow, everyone seems to want to know what matters most to this community.

The truth is simpler than it seems. Latino...

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Apprenticeship: Pathway to Opportunity

(5) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 4:11 PM

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called for "more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life." I couldn't agree more, because I've seen firsthand the success of apprenticeships at companies across the nation in my first six months as secretary...

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America Deserves a Raise

(18) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 5:07 PM

It's time to give America a raise. That was one of the basic, core messages in President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. He called on Congress to do what 21 states and the District of Columbia have already done -- increase the minimum wage so...

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The Dignity of Work: Katherine Hackett's Story

(11) Comments | Posted January 7, 2014 | 5:50 PM

Katherine Hackett has done everything America has asked of her. She is a hardworking, skilled, educated professional who paid taxes and contributed to her community. A single mother from Moodus, Conn., she raised two sons who have served our country in the military, one in special forces and the other...

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Extending a Critical Lifeline for the Long-Term Unemployed

(51) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 4:27 PM

This weekend, Unemployment Insurance benefits are set to expire for more than 1.3 million Americans. These are people who have been struggling in this tough economy after losing their jobs through no fault of their own, and now they will lose a critical lifeline. New Year's is supposed to be...

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Honoring a Women's Rights Pioneer

(4) Comments | Posted December 13, 2013 | 7:29 PM


The Labor Department's Hall of Honor recognizes men and women -- like Cesar Chavez, Helen Keller and the Workers of the Memphis Sanitation Strike -- who have made invaluable contributions to the welfare...

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Minimum Wage Momentum

(106) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 3:40 PM

Tomorrow, in 100 cities nationwide, fast-food workers are speaking out and taking action. Their message is simple: they want a wage that allows them to raise their families without living in poverty.

I've met with these workers. I've looked into their eyes and seen their pride and their dignity, but...

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