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On March 7, the CFPB and the NLRB announced that they entered into an information sharing agreement to better protect consumers and address practices that harm workers in specific labor markets. The agreement further supports both agencies’ collaborated efforts to protect consumers and worders under both consumer financial protection laws and the NLRA. This follows upon the CFPB’s prior efforts to investigate consumer risks in the workforce, specifically from employers. These efforts unveiled specific issues consumers could face in the work force, including:

  • Employer surveillance of and profit from personal data: employees may be tracked by employer surveillance tools – inside and outside of working parameters – without their knowledge or consent. Further, such collected data may be sold to other institutions by the employer.
  • Employer-driven debt: certain employers may mandate training or equipment at costs employees cannot pay. In turn, employees often are indebted to their employers for such requirements, and without an inability to pay them off, are unable to change jobs or improve working conditions.

In a statement given with the announcement of the sharing agreement, CFPB Director Chopra emphasized that the information sharing with the NLRB would support the CFPB’s continued efforts to identify and eliminate employer “debt traps” that block workers/consumers’ freedom to leave one job for another.

Putting it into Practice: The consolidated efforts of the CFPB and the NLRB underscore the CFPB’s continued efforts to protect consumers in the employment space. As such, employers should be aware of these actions and continue to scrutinize their own employer practices to ensure they are not in violation of any union or consumer laws, including the use of “debt traps” or profiting off of data obtained from employees without proper consent.