- A former official in the Obama administration, the Indian American has held multiple roles at the agency.
President Joe Biden has nominated Rajesh Nayak as assistant secretary for Policy in the Department of Labor. Nayak currently serves as a senior advisor at the DOL.
If confirmed by the Senate, “Nayak would oversee an influential central office responsible for supporting all DOL sub agencies in the drafting of regulations and coordinating with the White House to complete them,” reported Bloomberg. As assistant secretary for policy, Nayak will be “DOL’s primary liaison with the White House gatekeeper for rulemaking, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs,” the Bloomberg report said, and added that “one of Nayak’s allies from the Obama DOL, Sharon Block, is the acting OIRA chief.”
As per Bloomberg, Nayak’s nomination “would signal bolder regulations on issues such as overtime pay, federal contracting mandates, and rules to achieve equity in the workplace.” The report also cited a 2020 paper Nayak co-authored — “How Regulatory Review Can Help Respond to Existential Threats” – where he “proposed overhauling the White House rulemaking review process to enhance regulatory capacity, and to give greater weight to inequality and worker interests when scrutinizing the need for agency rules.”
Nayak previously spent seven years at the labor department in the Obama-Biden Administration, serving in a range of senior roles including senior counsel and deputy assistant secretary for policy. Later, as deputy chief of staff, he 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.
After his time in the Obama-Biden Administration, his work included two-plus years as the Deputy Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, where he helped to lead the organization’s restructuring and managed its senior leadership. Most recently, he has also been a Fellow at the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School and a consultant.
Prior to his government service, Nayak worked as an attorney at NELP, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, and the Shriver Center in Chicago. He earned an undergraduate degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and a law degree from Yale. Nayak grew up in South Central Illinois and now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife, daughter, and son.