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Labor and Employment Law Updates

Federal Update: Puzder Withdraws - Acosta Nominated; and Congress Likely to Consider Minimum Wage and Joint Employer Liability Legislation

President Trump’s announcement of a new Department of Labor (“DOL”) Secretary pick, and statements from the Chairman of the Congressional Workforce Protections Subcommittee (the “WP Subcommittee”)[1] about possible legislation, are setting the stage for changes in employment and labor policy in the Trump administration.

Acosta the New DOL Secretary Nominee

On February 15, 2017, President Donald Trump’s Department of Labor (“DOL”) controversial Secretary nominee, fast-food chain CEO Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration, presumably because Puzder’s Senate confirmation appeared questionable following reports about hiring of an undocumented worker, his personal life, and his pro-immigration stance.[2]  President Trump’s pick to replace Puzder as DOL secretary, Alexander Acosta, is well-versed in employment and labor law issues, and is considered a “traditional Republican conservative.”[3]  Acosta served under President George W. Bush as both an assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, and a member of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”).  He presently is the dean at Florida International University College of Law.[4]    

With significant government experience and having already been through the Senate confirmation process three times for previous roles,[5] it is likely that the Senate will confirm Acosta’s nomination.  If confirmed, Acosta would be the first Hispanic in President Trump’s cabinet.[6] 

Congress likely to consider minimum wage and joint employer liability

On February 16, 2017, the WP Subcommittee signaled that Congress will likely consider the issues of minimum wage and joint employer liability during the current legislative session.[7]  Representative Bradley Byrne (R–AL)—Chairman of the WP Subcommittee—stated that he expects the WP Subcommittee will consider minimum wage and joint employer liability legislation during the current legislative session.[8]  Although he did not provide specifics on what such legislation would look like, Byrne, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, stated that the Republican-controlled Congress will advance an agenda to reduce regulations and legislation that limit job creation.[9]  Such an agenda would complement President Trump’s recent executive order requiring federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation they implement (see related article).

Campbell Litigation will continue to track these developments and report back when further updates are available.


[1] The WP Subcommittee has jurisdiction over wages and hours of workers, workers’ compensation, immigration issues as they affect employers and workers, occupational safety and health, and matters related to equal employment opportunity and civil rights in employment.  See

[2] Ben Penn and Chris Opfer, Puzder Withdraws as Labor Secretary Nominee, Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report (Feb. 15, 2017).

[3] Steve Holland, Robert Iafolla, Trump taps ex-labor borad member Acosta to be labor secretary, Reuters (Feb. 16, 2017) (available at (last assessed Feb. 16, 2017).

[4] Peter Alexander and Ali Vitali, Trump to Announce Alexander Acosta as New Labor Secretary Pick, NBC News (Feb. 16, 2017) (available at: (last accessed Feb. 16, 2017).

[5] Meghan Keneally, Ryan Struyk, Jon Karl and Shushannah Walshe, Trump nominates Alexander Acosta as labor secretary, ABC News (Feb. 16, 2017) (available at: (last accessed Feb. 16, 2017). 

[6] Alex Leary, Trump to name FIU Dean Alexander Acosta as labor pick, Tampa Bay Times – The Buzz (Feb. 16, 2017) (available at: (last accessed Feb. 16, 2017).

[7] Jon Steingart, Former Wage, Hour Chiefs Offer Tips to New Congress, Bloomberg BNA Daily Labor Report (Feb. 15, 2017).  The WP Subcommittee also met on February 16, 2017 to discuss federal wage-and-hour policies in today’s economy.  Id.

[8] Id.

[9] U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee, status/832265780213510144 (Feb. 16, 2017, 10:29 AM).