On March 7, 2023, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) announced that the two agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) creating a formal partnership that allows the two agencies to share data with each other. The agencies highlighted this new partnership’s potential to protect American workers from:
- employer surveillance and monitoring
- data collection
- employer-driven debt created from the purchase of equipment, supplies, or required training
The MOU will allow the NLRB to access nonpublic data from the CFRB. This includes any relevant ongoing CFRB investigations, matters, and proceedings. The CFRB was founded in 2011 in the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, and ensures that “markets for consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive for American workers”.
The MOU will remain in effect indefinitely. Either agency, however, can decide to withdraw from participating in the agreement after giving 30 days notice to the other agency.
The partnership follows an October 2022 memo from NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, which also focused on the potential dangers of employer surveillance on workers. In the October memo, Abruzzo identified the CFRB as a potential collaborator, because of the agency’s past experience investigating employer monitoring and productivity tracking technology. Abruzzo, in a public statement accompanying the MOU, stated that she was concerned over employers’ use of artificial intelligence to chill workers from exercising their labor rights.
This also is not the first partnership the NLRB has made during the Biden Administration. In January 2022, the NLRB partnered with the Department of Labor on a similar information sharing initiative. Following that partnership, Abruzzo indicated in a February 2022 memo that she intended to strengthen partnerships with other federal agencies to better protect worker rights.
As always, we will keep you informed of any updates on this interagency collaboration.