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Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform And Consumer Protection Act (Part IV)

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("WSRCPA"). This post is the fourth in a five-part series on the employment law provisions of the WSRCPA. This post examines employment-related provisions Section 1057 of the WSRCPA, which is part of the new Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 ("CFPA").  The CFPA creates a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection ("Bureau") that regulates the consumer financial products and services industry. Which Employers Are Affected. The CFPA prohibits a "covered person or service provider" (anyone that offers or provides a "consumer financial product or service") from engaging in certain types of discrimination against employees.  The definition of "financial product or service" found in Section 1002(15) of the WSRCPA is key because it determines who is a covered person or service provider.  This definition is long--too long to list here--and the coverage is broad. Who Is Protected. "Covered employee[s]" are protected.  A covered employee is any individual performing tasks related to the offering or provision of a consumer financial product or service.  This apparently includes anyone from the receptionist to the CEO of the institution. What Is Protected. Covered employees are protected against discrimination or termination on the basis of: (1) having provided, or been about to provide, information to the employer, the Bureau, or any other government authority or law enforcement agency relating to any act or omission the employee reasonably believes is a violation of the CFPA or any conduct prescribed by the Bureau;  (2) participating in a Bureau proceeding; (3) instituting a proceeding under any Federal consumer financial law; or (4) having objected to, or refused to participate in, any activity reasonably believed to be in violation of any law, regulation or standard of or under the jurisdiction of the Bureau. Procedure. Unfortunately the procedure set up for adjudicating these claims is a Byzantine combination of an administrative review by the Department of Labor ("DOL"), with an appeal to the local circuit Court of Appeals, or, if the DOL does not act in a timely fashion in adjudicating the claim, a jury trial in a federal district court.  A claim must be filed with the DOL within 180 days of the violation. Remedies. The remedies available to a claimant include reinstatement, back pay with interest, compensatory damages, costs and attorney's fees.  Like the other employment laws in the WSRCPA, pre-dispute waivers and arbitration agreements are not enforceable. GSF

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