The CFPB announced earlier this week that it has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that is intended to “help to identify and end financial practices that harm workers and to enhance the enforcement of federal consumer financial protection and labor laws and regulations.”  According to the CFPB, the MOU “recognizes the overlap of potentially harmful conduct that may pose risks to consumers and workers under federal consumer financial protection law and the National Labor Relations Act.”

The MOU addresses the sharing of information between the two agencies and the confidentiality of that information.  While the MOU does not identify any specific topics about which the agencies plan to share information, the CFPB’s press release about the MOU identifies “employer surveillance and employer-driven debt” as areas of immediate concern.  The press release quotes remarks from CFPB Director Rohit Chopra in which he stated that “Information sharing with the National Labor Relations Board will support our efforts to end debt traps that stop workers from leaving one job for another.”  It also quotes remarks from NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo in which she stated that “[e]mployers’ practices and use of artificial intelligence tools can chill workers from exercising their labor rights.”

With regard to employer surveillance and employer-driven debt, the CFFB indicated that the comments it received in response to its June 2022 request for information on employer-driven debt and an earlier roundtable with worker organizations and labor unions provided the following information:

  • Employer-driven debt: Workers often incur significant debt to employers arising from unnecessary employer-mandated training or equipment or that might be more expensive or harmful than what they might purchase in a competitive market.  Such debt can interfere with workers’ ability to change jobs.
  • Employer surveillance: Workers may be unaware that employer surveillance tools 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.

Ballard Spahr LLP’s Labor and Employment and Consumer Financial Services attorneys are prepared to answer questions regarding the MOU and the areas of concern identified by the CFPB.