On Thursday, April 27, 2017, R. Alexander Acosta was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to head the Labor Department. Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board under former Republican President George W. Bush, who also appointed him to be assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Prior to his role with the NLRB, Acosta served as a law clerk to Samuel Alito from 1994 to 1995 when Alito was a judge at the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, prior to Alito joining the United States Supreme Court. Interestingly, Acosta told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during his confirmation hearing that he had reservations about certain Obama-era labor regulations.
Particularly relevant to prior blog posts we have had, Acosta expressed reservations about Obama’s changes to the overtime rule issued last year that more than doubled the salary ceiling under which employees would be eligible for overtime pay, from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. As we previously discussed, the rule purported to extend overtime pay to more than 4 million salaried workers, but it was blocked by a federal judge in November 2016. Acosta said he had “serious questions as to whether the secretary of labor had the power to enact this in the first place.”
We will keep you apprised as to any developments in this area.