On February 6, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered Hermitage Club Realty LLC (Hermitage), a real estate company based in Vermont, to provide relief to a former employee who was fired for blowing the whistle on what he reasonably believed were illegal real estate referral fees.
OSHA investigated the whistleblower’s CFPA retaliation complaint and found reasonable cause to believe that Hermitage fired him in retaliation for his CFPA protected whistleblowing. The CFPA protects disclosures made to an employer, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or any State, local, or Federal, government authority or law enforcement agency concerning any act or omission that the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of any CFPB regulation or any other consumer financial protection law that the Bureau enforces. This includes several federal laws regulating “unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices . . . related to the provision of consumer financial products or services.”
The Real Estate Settlements and Procedures Act (RESPA) prohibits the payment of a referral fee or kickback in exchange for a referral incident to or part of a settlement service involving a federally-related mortgage loan. Accordingly, disclosures concerning RESPA-prohibited referral fees are protected under the CFPA.Read more here.