The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently issued a final rule establishing procedures for handling whistleblower retaliation complaints under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.
Section 1057 of the CFPA protects employees against retaliation for reporting potential violations of consumer financial protection laws to their employer, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or any other law enforcement or regulatory agency.
“Whistleblowers serve as a check on the government and business, shining a light on illegal, unethical, or dangerous practices that otherwise may go uncorrected,” OSHA Assistant Secretary of Labor David Michaels said in a news release. “This final rule protects employees of private financial institutions and businesses who stand up for what is right when the integrity of our financial system is being threatened.”
This final rule establishes procedures, burdens of proof, remedies and statutes of limitations for handling whisteblower complaints under the CFPA similar to other whistleblower protection statutes that OSHA administers, according to the release.
Section 1057 of the Dodd-Frank Act, also referred to as the Consumer Financial Protection Act, provides protection to covered employees, and authorized representatives of such employees, against retaliation because they provided information to their employer, to the CFPB, or to any other federal, state or local government authority or law enforcement agency relating to any violation of any provision of the act or any other provision of law that is subject to the jurisdiction of CFPB. The section applies to covered persons and providers of financial products or services such as residential mortgage loan origination, brokerage, and servicing; modification and foreclosure relief services; student loans; payday loans; debt collection; credit reporting; finance companies, lending, and loan servicing and brokerage; money transmitting and check cashing services; prepaid card services; debt life services; and certain other service providers and affiliates.
CFPA’s whistleblower provisions include procedures that allow a covered employee to file a complaint with the U.S. Labor Secretary within 180 days of the alleged retaliation. Upon receiving the complaint, the secretary must provide written notice to the person or persons named in the complaint alleged to have violated the act, the allegations contained in the complaint, the substance of the evidence supporting the complaint, and the rights afforded the respondent throughout the investigation. The secretary must then, within 60 days of receipt of the complaint, afford the complainant and respondent an opportunity to submit a response and meet with the investigator to present statements from witnesses, and conduct an investigation. After investigating the complaint, the secretary will issue a written finding of the results. If the secretary finds reasonable cause that a retaliation has occurred, the secretary can order the respondent to reinstate the employee to his or her former position along with back pay and other damages.
To learn more about the final rule, see https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-03-17/html/2016-05415.htm.