Seth Harris
Seth D. Harris is the 11th United States Deputy Secretary of Labor
United States Deputy Secretary of Labor
United States Deputy Secretary of Labor is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Labor. In the United States federal government, the Deputy Secretary oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department of Labor, and may act as Secretary of Labor during the absence...

. Nominated by Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 in February 2009, Harris was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in May 2009. He has been described as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis's
Hilda Solis
Hilda Lucia Solis is the 25th United States Secretary of Labor, serving in the Obama administration. She is a member of the Democratic Party and served in the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2009, representing the 31st and 32nd congressional districts of California that include...

 "right-hand man." Harris is also a member of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation is an independent agency of the United States Government that mobilizes U.S. private sector investment in new and emerging markets overseas in order to support both the sustainable economic development of those markets and the creation of American jobs...

's Board of Directors.

Early life and education

Harris earned a BS from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations
The New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations is an industrial relations school at Cornell University, an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, USA...

 in 1983 and was a member of the Quill and Dagger
Quill and Dagger
Quill and Dagger is a senior honor society at Cornell University. It is often recognized as one of the most prominent collegiate societies of its type, along with Skull and Bones of Yale University...

 society. He later obtained a J.D.
Juris Doctor
Juris Doctor is a professional doctorate and first professional graduate degree in law.The degree was first awarded by Harvard University in the United States in the late 19th century and was created as a modern version of the old European doctor of law degree Juris Doctor (see etymology and...

 from New York University School of Law
New York University School of Law
The New York University School of Law is the law school of New York University. Established in 1835, the school offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in law, and is located in Greenwich Village, in the New York City borough of Manhattan....

 where he was editor-in-chief of the Review of Law & Social Change and a member of the Order of the Coif
Order of the Coif
The Order of the Coif is an honor society for United States law school graduates. A student at an American law school who earns a Juris Doctor degree and graduates in the top 10 percent of his or her class is eligible for membership if the student's law school has a chapter of the...

. Harris was a law clerk
Law clerk
A law clerk or a judicial clerk is a person who provides assistance to a judge in researching issues before the court and in writing opinions. Law clerks are not court clerks or courtroom deputies, who are administrative staff for the court. Most law clerks are recent law school graduates who...

 to Chief Judge Gene Carter
Gene Carter
Gene Carter is a United States federal judge.Born in Milbridge, Maine, Carter received a B.A. from the University of Maine in 1958 and an LL.B. from New York University School of Law in 1961. He was a law clerk to the Hon. J...

 of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine and Judge William C. Canby, Jr.
William C. Canby, Jr.
William Cameron Canby, Jr. is currently a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sitting in Phoenix, Arizona. He was born on May 22, 1931, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Canby earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University in 1953 on an ROTC scholarship, graduating summa...

 of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

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
Robert Reich
Robert Bernard Reich is an American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter and was Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1997....

 and second-term Secretary Alexis Herman
Alexis Herman
Alexis Margaret Herman was the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor, serving under President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.-Background:The daughter of politician Alex Herman and schoolteacher Gloria...

 on legal, policy and management issues.

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
New York Law School
New York Law School is a private law school in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Lower Manhattan in New York City. New York Law School is one of the oldest independent law schools in the United States. The school is located within four blocks of all major courts in Manhattan. In 2011, New York Law School...

. 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
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990. It was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H. W. Bush, and later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009....

. He has also written about the National Labor Relations Act
National Labor Relations Act
The National Labor Relations Act or Wagner Act , is a 1935 United States federal law that limits the means with which employers may react to workers in the private sector who create labor unions , engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in...

, the Fair Labor Standards Act
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA established a national minimum wage, guaranteed 'time-and-a-half' for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor," a term that is defined in the statute...

, worker organizing, and employment discrimination laws in general.

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

Obama connections

Harris served as a member of the Agency Review Working Group of the Obama-Biden Transition Team
Presidential transition of Barack Obama
The presidential transition of Barack Obama began when he won the United States presidential election on November 4, 2008, and became the President-Elect. He was formally elected by the Electoral College on December 15, 2008...

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


Harris is married to Karen Beth Rosen, a social worker. His father is the late Dr. Jonathan Harris, a high school teacher and author of young adult non-fiction books. His mother is Martha Harris, a retired high school librarian. Harris’s brother is radio personality Paul Harris.

Articles and books

  • Seth D. Harris and Michael Ashley Stein, “Workplace Disability,” in LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT LAW AND ECONOMICS (Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, Seth D. Harris, and Orly Lobel, eds.) (Edward Elgar Pub. 2009).).Labor and Employment Law & Economics
  • Seth D. Harris, "The Mis-Directed Debate Over the Economics of Disabilities Accommodations," in HUMAN RESOURCES ECONOMICS AND PUBLIC POLICY: ESSAYS IN HONOR OF VERNON M. BRIGGS, JR. (Charles J. Whalen, ed.) (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research 2009).Human Resources Economics and Public Policy, W.E. Upjohn Institute
  • Seth D. Harris, “Law, Economics, and Accommodations in the Internal Labor Market,” 10 U. PA. J. BUS. & LAB. L. 1 (Fall 2007).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Disabilities Accommodations, Transaction Costs, and Mediation: Evidence from the EEOC’s Mediation Program,” 13 HARV. NEGOT. L. REV. 1 (Winter 2008).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Don’t Mourn — Reorganize!: An Introduction to the Next Wave Organizing Conference Volume,” 49 N.Y.L.Sch. L. Rev. 303 (2005-2006).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Innocence and The Sopranos,” 49 N.Y. L. Sch L. Rev. 577 (2004-2005).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Introduction: Understanding the Context for the ‘Coehlo Challenge’,” 48 N.Y. L. Sch. L. Rev. 711 (2004).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Re-Thinking the Economics of Discrimination: US Airways v. Barnett, the ADA, and the Application of Internal Labor Markets Theory,” 89 Iowa L. Rev. 123 (Oct. 2003).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Coase’s Paradox and the Inefficiency of Permanent Strike Replacements,” 80 Wash. U. L.Q. 1185 (2002).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, “Conceptions of Fairness and the Fair Labor Standards Act,” 18 Hofstra Lab. & Emp. L. J. 19 (Fall 2000).Social Sciences Research Network
  • Seth D. Harris, Note, “Permitting Prejudice to Govern: Equal Protection, Military Deference, and the Exclusion of Lesbians and Gay Men from the Military,” 17 N.Y.U. Rev. L. Soc. Change 171 (1989-1990).
  • “Old 9-to-5 Grind Begins to Look Good,” Los Angeles Times (Op Ed) June 1, 2003 at M5.
  • “A Short Transition (Thank Goodness),” Washington Post (Op Ed) December 20, 2000 at A35.
  • “The Pizza Hut Subsidy,” Washington Post (Op Ed) October 4, 2000 at A33.

External links

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