Biden nominates Indian American as a policy head at labor department


An Indian American advocate has been identified by US President Joe Biden to take on the role to look into the progressive regulatory policy.

Rajesh Nayak was named as the nominee for assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Labor, the White House said in a news release.

Previously, Nayak had served in the Obama administration, as the U.S. Labor Department’s top policy official.

Later, as deputy chief of staff, Nayak advised the secretary of labor on the department’s workforce development, worker protection and counter-trafficking programs, and led the department’s employee engagement efforts, his bio said.

If confirmed by the Senate as assistant secretary for policy, Nayak would oversee an influential central office responsible for supporting all DOL subagencies in the drafting of regulations and coordinating with the White House to complete them.

The White House formally announced Biden’s intent to nominate Nayak on Friday afternoon April 23, marking the administration’s sixth selection for a Senate-confirmed role at the DOL. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh is the only one who’s been confirmed.

Biden’s selection of Nayak comes as the department moves to reverse a pair of late-term Trump administration wage-hour rules and determines whether to issue a workplace safety emergency rule to protect employees from Covid-19 infection. At the same time, most DOL divisions have yet to establish a firm regulatory agenda for the remainder of the Biden administration.

One of Nayak’s multiple roles during seven years at the Obama DOL was as deputy assistant secretary for policy, the No. 2 official in the office he will be nominated to head. A graduate of Yale Law School, he had stints as DOL’s senior counsel to the solicitor and as deputy chief of staff to then-Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

After his work on the Biden transition team, Nayak spent the initial weeks of the Biden administration at DOL as a temporary senior adviser in the secretary’s office. His name was removed from the DOL leadership website in recent weeks, suggesting the short-term role had ended.

Before offering his services to public office, Nayak worked as an attorney at NELP, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and the Shriver Center in Chicago.

Nayak holds an undergraduate degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Yale.