On April 9, 2021, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Douglas L. Parker to be assistant secretary of labor for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Parker currently serves as chief of the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA).
Before assuming the helm at Cal/OSHA, Parker was the executive director of Worksafe, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy organization working on behalf of lower-wage employees and immigrant workers on issues of workplace safety and health. Parker previously served in the DOL during the Obama administration, including as deputy assistant secretary of labor for policy at the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Parker also worked for the United Mine Workers of America and as a partner of a law firm in Washington, D.C.
If confirmed, Parker will be the first U.S. Senate-confirmed assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health since the Obama administration. Former acting assistant secretary for OSHA, Loren Sweatt, was appointed to that position by then-president Donald Trump in July 2017, but she was never confirmed by the Senate. Parker would also be the first assistant secretary with an occupational safety and health background (though on the legal side of the ledger) since John Henshaw, who served under former president George W. Bush from 2001 through 2004.
As of April 12, 2021, a hearing on Parker’s nomination had not been scheduled. Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to Parker’s nomination and will post updates on the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health blogs as additional information becomes available. Important information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar and podcast programs.