On February 16, Alexander Acosta, Dean of Florida International University (FIU), was nominated for Secretary of Labor, after the first nominee Andrew Puzder withdrew his nomination a day before his confirmation hearing. Mr. Acosta has a vast amount of knowledge and experience in labor and employment law, as evidenced through his work with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
While serving on the NLRB from 2002 through 2003 under President George W. Bush, Acosta participated in or authored more than 125 legal opinions. After his time at the NLRB, Acosta went on to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice from 2003 through 2005, another appointment by President George W. Bush. He was the first Hispanic to serve in that role. During his time with the DOJ, the department was involved in several systemic discrimination cases, including the famous Cracker Barrel case in 2004. In this lawsuit, the restaurant chain was accused of adopting racially discriminatory serving practices against African-American customers. Cracker Barrel settled the case on May 3, 2004. He left the DOL in 2005 and went on to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida until 2009, after which he joined FIU.
Another noteworthy fact about Mr. Acosta is that he has spoken several times on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims. He is also very familiar with OFCCP and appears to be very pragmatic in his legal opinions and other involvements so far. For example, he was a signatory on the recordkeeping requirements rule of Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. This rule aimed to provide additional guidance on who should be considered an ‘applicant’ for adverse impact analysis in the internet era.
Acosta has the pedigree and experience to be an excellent Secretary of Labor. We expect his confirmation to be swift.
By Vinaya Sakpal, HR Analyst, and David Cohen, President, at DCI Consulting Group