The 51-year-old is the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He has been put in charge of the Civil Rights Division with the Justice Department since 2009.
Perez has been the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, where he served from 2002 to 2006.
His "knowledge and experience will make him an outstanding secretary of labour," Obama said during a White House nomination ceremony, praising Perez's track record at federal, state, and local government levels.
Citing Perez's past work as a civil rights lawyer, a Senator aide and a member of the Montgomery County Council, Obama said, "Tom fought for a level playing field where hard work and responsibility are rewarded and working families can get ahead."
As a lawyer with a degree from Harvard Law school, Perez has served as head of civil rights enforcement at the Health and Human Services Department under former US president Bill Clinton.