NLRB And Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Team Up Against Employers

Volume: 22 | Issue: 11
March 14, 2023

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have entered into a formal partnership to “address practices of employer surveillance, monitoring, data collection, and employer-driven debt.” The agencies have entered into a memorandum of understanding, agreeing to share information, cross-train staff, and partner on investigation efforts in areas where their jurisdictions overlap.

Proactive employers should pay attention to this announcement because it identifies areas these agencies are targeting for enforcement actions. Employers who address these target areas now may avoid a charge from these agencies in the future and/or be in a better position to defend themselves should a charge be filed.

While we are all familiar with the NLRB, what about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)? This agency was established by the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010; it is able to conduct investigations and bring administrative charges or lawsuits against companies that engage in conduct it believes violates the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The CFPB is “responsible for ensuring that markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive for American workers.” In relation to the workplace, the CFPB gives the following examples of concern:

Employer-driven debt: Accepting a job can also mean falling into doom loops of debt. Organizations reported to the CFPB that workers may increasingly have to personally shoulder debt for employer-mandated training or equipment that they might not need, or that may be more expensive or harmful than what they might purchase in a competitive market. As a result, workers are often saddled with significant debt that may be owed to employers or pursued by third-party debt collectors and that stymies them from changing jobs for better wages or working conditions.”

Employer surveillance and selling personal data: Workers may not realize that employer surveillance tools – used to track things like worker productivity – can continue to track them outside of working hours, and the companies that own the surveillance tools might sell worker data to financial institutions, insurers, and other employers. Certain actions by these surveillance companies may be violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act along with other consumer financial protection laws.”

The CFPB encourages workers to submit complaints “about employer-driven debt and employer surveillance,” and to notify the CFPB if they “believe their company has violated federal consumer financial laws, including violations related to workplace financial products and services.”

Employers should consider reviewing the policies and practices that may implicate the areas these agencies are focused upon — surveillance, monitoring, data collection and “employer-driven debt.” As always, KZA attorneys can help you understand these issues and determine whether changes are needed to mitigate liability in these areas.

KZA Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.

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