CFPB and NLRB Sign Information Sharing Agreement to Target Employer Surveillance and “Debt Traps” for Employees
On March 7, 2023, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the federal government agency charged with protecting consumers in the financial sector, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal government agency tasked with protecting private sector employees’ rights to engage in union organizing and other concerted activity, announced an information sharing agreement in order to better protect both consumers and workers.
The announcement indicated that shared areas of concern for the two agencies include employer surveillance and employer-driven debt. The CFPB hopes that sharing information with the NLRB will support the agency’s efforts to end “debt traps” in employment. Last year the CFPB began seeking information about risks consumers face from employers, such as workers who take on debt due to employer-mandated training and equipment.
In the announcement, the NLRB General Counsel echoed concerns previously addressed by the NLRB in a memorandum last year regarding employers’ use of electronic monitoring and automated management in the workplace and the potential chilling effect on organization efforts.
The information-sharing agreement does not create a legally binding obligation between the CFPB and the NLRB and does not waive any existing statutory or regulatory requirements governing the disclosure of nonpublic information. Both agencies will still be required to protect the confidentiality of nonpublic information and personally identifiable information.
Businesses should take note of this new agreement and partnership as it could mean an increase in investigations and charges triggered by information shared between the agencies. The announcement specifically identified the “gig economy” as a focus of concern among the agencies.