Seth Harris

Seth Harris
United States Secretary of Labor
In office
January 22, 2013  July 23, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Hilda Solis
Succeeded by Thomas Perez
United States Deputy Secretary of Labor
In office
May 26, 2009  January 16, 2014
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Howard Radzely
Succeeded by Chris Lu
Personal details
Born (1962-10-12) October 12, 1962
Spouse(s) Karen Beth Rosen[1]
Alma mater Cornell University
New York University
Religion Judaism

Seth D. Harris (born October 12, 1962) was the 11th United States Deputy Secretary of Labor, and served for six months as the Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor and a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet.[2][3] Nominated by President Obama in February 2009, Harris was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2009, and became acting Secretary of Labor following the resignation of Hilda Solis in January 2013. Harris was also a member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation's Board of Directors.[4] Harris stepped down from his post on January 16, 2014.[5] Since leaving the Obama Administration, Harris has been a Distinguished Scholar at Cornell University's School of Industrial & Labor Relations,[6] and Counsel in the Public Policy & Regulation and Employment & Labor practices of Dentons, a global law firm.[7] Harris is also a member of the United Cerebral Palsy Association's Board of Directors.

Early life and education

His father is the late Dr. Jonathan Harris, a high school teacher and author of young adult non-fiction books.[8] His mother is Martha Harris, a retired high school librarian.[8] Harris’s brother is radio personality Paul Harris.[9] Harris earned a B.S. from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 1983 and was a member of the Quill and Dagger society.[10] He later obtained a J.D. from New York University School of Law where he was editor-in-chief of the Review of Law & Social Change[11] and a member of the Order of the Coif.[10] Harris was a law clerk to Chief Judge Gene Carter of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine and Judge William C. Canby, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.[12]


Prior Labor Department service

Harris served as Counselor to the Secretary and in other Labor Department policymaking roles for seven years advising both President Clinton’s first-term Labor Secretary Robert Reich and second-term Secretary Alexis Herman on legal, policy and management issues.[10]

Academic career

For nine years prior to joining the Obama Administration, Harris was a Professor of Law and Director of Labor & Employment Law Programs at New York Law School.[12] Harris’s scholarship focused on the economics of labor and employment law, with a particular emphasis on the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.[13] He has also written about the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, worker organizing, and employment discrimination laws in general.[13]

Harris served as a Senior Fellow of the Life Without Limits Project of the United Cerebral Palsy Association[14] and a member of Georgetown University Law School’s Workplace Flexibility 2010 National Advisory Commission[15][16]

Obama connections

Harris served as a member of the Agency Review Working Group of the Obama-Biden Transition Team with responsibility for the federal government’s transportation, labor, and education agencies.[16] Harris also chaired Obama for America’s Labor, Employment and Workplace Policy Committee and Disability Policy Committee.[16] He had served as a member of the Clinton-Gore Transition Team in 1992 and 1993.[10]

Personal life

In 1997, Harris married Karen Beth Rosen, a social worker and psychotherapist. [8] The couple has two sons, Jonathan and Daniel.

Articles and books


  1. "NYU Law - 2009-10 ALMOs: Seth Harris (June)". Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  2. Secunda, Paul M. (January 24, 2013). "Former Law Prof Seth Harris Appointed Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor". Workplace Prof Blog. Retrieved January 24, 2013.
  3. "Meet the Secretary of Labor". U.S. Department of Labor. Retrieved January 24, 2013. Hilda L. Solis resigned as Secretary of Labor on January 22, 2013. Deputy Secretary Seth D. Harris is the Acting Secretary of Labor.
  4. OPIC Board of Directors, Seth D. Harris. Retrieved August 2011
  5. "Acting Deputy Secretary of Labor and Solicitor of Labor". Office of the Secretary. Department of Labor. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  7. Seth Harris-Counsel-Dentons
  8. 1 2 3 New York Times: "Karen B. Rosen and Seth D. Harris Wedding Announcement" June 22, 1997
  9. Harrisonline,
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Who Runs the Government: Seth Harris". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on July 5, 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  11. "NYU Law". Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  12. 1 2 "Seth D. Harris, New York Law School Faculty Profile". Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  13. 1 2 "Seth D. Harris Publications, New York Law School Faculty Profile". Archived from the original on July 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  14. "Life Without Limits Project of the United Cerebral Palsy Association". Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  15. Georgetown University Law School’s Workplace Flexibility 2010 National Advisory Commission
  16. 1 2 3 "Agency Working Group Members, Obama-Biden Transition Team". Retrieved 2011-03-12.
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Political offices
Preceded by
Howard Radzely
United States Deputy Secretary of Labor
Succeeded by
Chris Lu
Preceded by
Hilda Solis
United States Secretary of Labor

Succeeded by
Thomas Perez
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