Collapse to view only § 5561. Definitions
- § 5561. Definitions
- § 5562. Investigations and administrative discovery
- § 5563. Hearings and adjudication proceedings
- § 5564. Litigation authority
- § 5565. Relief available
- § 5566. Referrals for criminal proceedings
- § 5567. Employee protection
The term “Bureau investigation” means any inquiry conducted by a Bureau investigator for the purpose of ascertaining whether any person is or has been engaged in any conduct that is a violation, as defined in this section.
The term “Bureau investigator” means any attorney or investigator employed by the Bureau who is charged with the duty of enforcing or carrying into effect any Federal consumer financial law.
The term “custodian” means the custodian or any deputy custodian designated by the Bureau.
The term “documentary material” includes the original or any copy of any book, document, record, report, memorandum, paper, communication, tabulation, chart, logs, electronic files, or other data or data compilations stored in any medium.
The term “violation” means any act or omission that, if proved, would constitute a violation of any provision of Federal consumer financial law.
The Bureau or, where appropriate, a Bureau investigator, may engage in joint investigations and requests for information, as authorized under this title.1
The authority under paragraph (1) includes matters relating to fair lending, and where appropriate, joint investigations with, and requests for information from, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Attorney General of the United States, or both.
The Bureau or a Bureau investigator may issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of relevant papers, books, documents, or other material in connection with hearings under this title.1
In the case of contumacy or refusal to obey a subpoena issued pursuant to this paragraph and served upon any person, the district court of the United States for any district in which such person is found, resides, or transacts business, upon application by the Bureau or a Bureau investigator and after notice to such person, may issue an order requiring such person to appear and give testimony or to appear and produce documents or other material.
Any failure to obey an order of the court under this subsection may be punished by the court as a contempt thereof.
Each civil investigative demand shall state the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation which is under investigation and the provision of law applicable to such violation.
A verified return by the individual serving any civil investigative demand or any enforcement petition filed under this section setting forth the manner of such service shall be proof of such service.
In the case of service by registered or certified mail, such return shall be accompanied by the return post office receipt of delivery of such demand or enforcement petition.
The production of documentary material in response to a civil investigative demand shall be made under a sworn certificate, in such form as the demand designates, by the person, if a natural person, to whom the demand is directed or, if not a natural person, by any person having knowledge of the facts and circumstances relating to such production, to the effect that all of the documentary material required by the demand and in the possession, custody, or control of the person to whom the demand is directed has been produced and made available to the custodian.
The submission of tangible things in response to a civil investigative demand shall be made under a sworn certificate, in such form as the demand designates, by the person to whom the demand is directed or, if not a natural person, by any person having knowledge of the facts and circumstances relating to such production, to the effect that all of the tangible things required by the demand and in the possession, custody, or control of the person to whom the demand is directed have been submitted to the custodian.
Each reporting requirement or question in a civil investigative demand shall be answered separately and fully in writing under oath, unless it is objected to, in which event the reasons for the objection shall be stated in lieu of an answer, and it shall be submitted under a sworn certificate, in such form as the demand designates, by the person, if a natural person, to whom the demand is directed or, if not a natural person, by any person responsible for answering each reporting requirement or question, to the effect that all information required by the demand and in the possession, custody, control, or knowledge of the person to whom the demand is directed has been submitted.
The examination of any person pursuant to a demand for oral testimony served under this subsection shall be taken before an officer authorized to administer oaths and affirmations by the laws of the United States or of the place at which the examination is held. The officer before whom oral testimony is to be taken shall put the witness on oath or affirmation and shall personally, or by any individual acting under the direction of and in the presence of the officer, record the testimony of the witness.
The testimony shall be taken stenographically and transcribed.
After the testimony is fully transcribed, the officer investigator before whom the testimony is taken shall promptly transmit a copy of the transcript of the testimony to the custodian.
Any Bureau investigator before whom oral testimony is to be taken shall exclude from the place where the testimony is to be taken all other persons, except the person giving the testimony, the attorney for that person, the officer before whom the testimony is to be taken, an investigator or representative of an agency with which the Bureau is engaged in a joint investigation, and any stenographer taking such testimony.
The oral testimony of any person taken pursuant to a civil investigative demand shall be taken in the judicial district of the United States in which such person resides, is found, or transacts business, or in such other place as may be agreed upon by the Bureau investigator before whom the oral testimony of such person is to be taken and such person.
Any person compelled to appear under a civil investigative demand for oral testimony pursuant to this section may be accompanied, represented, and advised by an attorney.
The attorney may advise a person described in clause (i), in confidence, either upon the request of such person or upon the initiative of the attorney, with respect to any question asked of such person.
A person described in clause (i), or the attorney for that person, may object on the record to any question, in whole or in part, and such person shall briefly state for the record the reason for the objection. An objection may properly be made, received, and entered upon the record when it is claimed that such person is entitled to refuse to answer the question on grounds of any constitutional or other legal right or privilege, including the privilege against self-incrimination, but such person shall not otherwise object to or refuse to answer any question, and such person or attorney shall not otherwise interrupt the oral examination.
The Bureau investigator shall certify on the transcript that the witness was duly sworn by him or her and that the transcript is a true record of the testimony given by the witness, and the Bureau investigator shall promptly deliver the transcript or send it by registered or certified mail to the custodian.
The Bureau investigator shall furnish a copy of the transcript (upon payment of reasonable charges for the transcript) to the witness only, except that the Bureau may for good cause limit such witness to inspection of the official transcript of his testimony.
Any witness appearing for the taking of oral testimony pursuant to a civil investigative demand shall be entitled to the same fees and mileage which are paid to witnesses in the district courts of the United States.
Documentary materials and tangible things received as a result of a civil investigative demand shall be subject to requirements and procedures regarding confidentiality, in accordance with rules established by the Bureau.
No rule established by the Bureau regarding the confidentiality of materials submitted to, or otherwise obtained by, the Bureau shall be intended to prevent disclosure to either House of Congress or to an appropriate committee of the Congress, except that the Bureau is permitted to adopt rules allowing prior notice to any party that owns or otherwise provided the material to the Bureau and had designated such material as confidential.
Whenever any person fails to comply with any civil investigative demand duly served upon him under this section, or whenever satisfactory copying or reproduction of material requested pursuant to the demand cannot be accomplished and such person refuses to surrender such material, the Bureau, through such officers or attorneys as it may designate, may file, in the district court of the United States for any judicial district in which such person resides, is found, or transacts business, and serve upon such person, a petition for an order of such court for the enforcement of this section.
All process of any court to which application may be made as provided in this subsection may be served in any judicial district.
Not later than 20 days after the service of any civil investigative demand upon any person under subsection (b), or at any time before the return date specified in the demand, whichever period is shorter, or within such period exceeding 20 days after service or in excess of such return date as may be prescribed in writing, subsequent to service, by any Bureau investigator named in the demand, such person may file with the Bureau a petition for an order by the Bureau modifying or setting aside the demand.
The time permitted for compliance with the demand in whole or in part, as determined proper and ordered by the Bureau, shall not run during the pendency of a petition under paragraph (1) at the Bureau, except that such person shall comply with any portions of the demand not sought to be modified or set aside.
A petition under paragraph (1) shall specify each ground upon which the petitioner relies in seeking relief, and may be based upon any failure of the demand to comply with the provisions of this section, or upon any constitutional or other legal right or privilege of such person.
At any time during which any custodian is in custody or control of any documentary material, tangible things, reports, answers to questions, or transcripts of oral testimony given by any person in compliance with any civil investigative demand, such person may file, in the district court of the United States for the judicial district within which the office of such custodian is situated, and serve upon such custodian, a petition for an order of such court requiring the performance by such custodian of any duty imposed upon him by this section or rule promulgated by the Bureau.
Whenever any petition is filed in any district court of the United States under this section, such court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the matter so presented, and to enter such order or orders as may be required to carry out the provisions of this section.
Any final order entered as described in paragraph (1) shall be subject to appeal pursuant to section 1291 of title 28.
If, in the opinion of the Bureau, any covered person or service provider is engaging or has engaged in an activity that violates a law, rule, or any condition imposed in writing on the person by the Bureau, the Bureau may, subject to sections 5514, 5515, and 5516 of this title, issue and serve upon the covered person or service provider a notice of charges in respect thereof.
The notice under subparagraph (A) shall contain a statement of the facts constituting the alleged violation or violations, and shall fix a time and place at which a hearing will be held to determine whether an order to cease and desist should issue against the covered person or service provider, such hearing to be held not earlier than 30 days nor later than 60 days after the date of service of such notice, unless an earlier or a later date is set by the Bureau, at the request of any party so served.
Unless the party or parties served under subparagraph (B) appear at the hearing personally or by a duly authorized representative, such person shall be deemed to have consented to the issuance of the cease-and-desist order.
In the event of consent under subparagraph (C), or if, upon the record, made at any such hearing, the Bureau finds that any violation specified in the notice of charges has been established, the Bureau may issue and serve upon the covered person or service provider an order to cease and desist from the violation or practice. Such order may, by provisions which may be mandatory or otherwise, require the covered person or service provider to cease and desist from the subject activity, and to take affirmative action to correct the conditions resulting from any such violation.
A cease-and-desist order shall become effective at the expiration of 30 days after the date of service of an order under paragraph (1) upon the covered person or service provider concerned (except in the case of a cease-and-desist order issued upon consent, which shall become effective at the time specified therein), and shall remain effective and enforceable as provided therein, except to such extent as the order is stayed, modified, terminated, or set aside by action of the Bureau or a reviewing court.
Any hearing provided for in this subsection shall be held in the Federal judicial district or in the territory in which the residence or principal office or place of business of the person is located unless the person consents to another place, and shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of chapter 5 of title 5. After such hearing, and within 90 days after the Bureau has notified the parties that the case has been submitted to the Bureau for final decision, the Bureau shall render its decision (which shall include findings of fact upon which its decision is predicated) and shall issue and serve upon each party to the proceeding an order or orders consistent with the provisions of this section. Judicial review of any such order shall be exclusively as provided in this subsection. Unless a petition for review is timely filed in a court of appeals of the United States, as provided in paragraph (4), and thereafter until the record in the proceeding has been filed as provided in paragraph (4), the Bureau may at any time, upon such notice and in such manner as the Bureau shall determine proper, modify, terminate, or set aside any such order. Upon filing of the record as provided, the Bureau may modify, terminate, or set aside any such order with permission of the court.
Any party to any proceeding under this subsection may obtain a review of any order served pursuant to this subsection (other than an order issued with the consent of the person concerned) by the filing in the court of appeals of the United States for the circuit in which the principal office of the covered person is located, or in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, within 30 days after the date of service of such order, a written petition praying that the order of the Bureau be modified, terminated, or set aside. A copy of such petition shall be forthwith transmitted by the clerk of the court to the Bureau, and thereupon the Bureau shall file in the court the record in the proceeding, as provided in section 2112 of title 28. Upon the filing of such petition, such court shall have jurisdiction, which upon the filing of the record shall except as provided in the last sentence of paragraph (3) be exclusive, to affirm, modify, terminate, or set aside, in whole or in part, the order of the Bureau. Review of such proceedings shall be had as provided in chapter 7 of title 5. The judgment and decree of the court shall be final, except that the same shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court of the United States, upon certiorari, as provided in section 1254 of title 28.
The commencement of proceedings for judicial review under paragraph (4) shall not, unless specifically ordered by the court, operate as a stay of any order issued by the Bureau.
Whenever the Bureau determines that the violation specified in the notice of charges served upon a person, including a service provider, pursuant to subsection (b), or the continuation thereof, is likely to cause the person to be insolvent or otherwise prejudice the interests of consumers before the completion of the proceedings conducted pursuant to subsection (b), the Bureau may issue a temporary order requiring the person to cease and desist from any such violation or practice and to take affirmative action to prevent or remedy such insolvency or other condition pending completion of such proceedings. Such order may include any requirement authorized under this part. Such order shall become effective upon service upon the person and, unless set aside, limited, or suspended by a court in proceedings authorized by paragraph (2), shall remain effective and enforceable pending the completion of the administrative proceedings pursuant to such notice and until such time as the Bureau shall dismiss the charges specified in such notice, or if a cease-and-desist order is issued against the person, until the effective date of such order.
Not later than 10 days after the covered person or service provider concerned has been served with a temporary cease-and-desist order, the person may apply to the United States district court for the judicial district in which the residence or principal office or place of business of the person is located, or the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, for an injunction setting aside, limiting, or suspending the enforcement, operation, or effectiveness of such order pending the completion of the administrative proceedings pursuant to the notice of charges served upon the person under subsection (b), and such court shall have jurisdiction to issue such injunction.
The Bureau may in its discretion apply to the United States district court within the jurisdiction of which the principal office or place of business of the person is located, for the enforcement of any effective and outstanding notice or order issued under this section, and such court shall have jurisdiction and power to order and require compliance herewith.
Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, no court shall have jurisdiction to affect by injunction or otherwise the issuance or enforcement of any notice or order or to review, modify, suspend, terminate, or set aside any such notice or order.
The Bureau shall prescribe rules establishing such procedures as may be necessary to carry out this section.
If any person violates a Federal consumer financial law, the Bureau may, subject to sections 5514, 5515, and 5516 of this title, commence a civil action against such person to impose a civil penalty or to seek all appropriate legal and equitable relief including a permanent or temporary injunction as permitted by law.
The Bureau may act in its own name and through its own attorneys in enforcing any provision of this title,1
The Bureau may compromise or settle any action if such compromise is approved by the court.
When commencing a civil action under Federal consumer financial law, or any rule thereunder, the Bureau shall notify the Attorney General and, with respect to a civil action against an insured depository institution or insured credit union, the appropriate prudential regulator.
In addition to any notice required under paragraph (1), the Bureau shall notify the Attorney General concerning any action, suit, or proceeding to which the Bureau is a party, except an action, suit, or proceeding that involves the offering or provision of consumer financial products or services.
In order to avoid conflicts and promote consistency regarding litigation of matters under Federal law, the Attorney General and the Bureau shall consult regarding the coordination of investigations and proceedings, including by negotiating an agreement for coordination by not later than 180 days after the designated transfer date. The agreement under this subparagraph shall include provisions to ensure that parallel investigations and proceedings involving the Federal consumer financial laws are conducted in a manner that avoids conflicts and does not impede the ability of the Attorney General to prosecute violations of Federal criminal laws.
Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to limit the authority of the Bureau under this title,1 including the authority to interpret Federal consumer financial law.
The Bureau may represent itself in its own name before the Supreme Court of the United States, provided that the Bureau makes a written request to the Attorney General within the 10-day period which begins on the date of entry of the judgment which would permit any party to file a petition for writ of certiorari, and the Attorney General concurs with such request or fails to take action within 60 days of the request of the Bureau.
Any civil action brought under this title 1 may be brought in a United States district court or in any court of competent jurisdiction of a state in a district in which the defendant is located or resides or is doing business, and such court shall have jurisdiction to enjoin such person and to require compliance with any Federal consumer financial law.
Except as otherwise permitted by law or equity, no action may be brought under this title 1 more than 3 years after the date of discovery of the violation to which an action relates.
An action arising under this title 1 does not include claims arising solely under enumerated consumer laws.
In any action arising solely under an enumerated consumer law, the Bureau may commence, defend, or intervene in the action in accordance with the requirements of that provision of law, as applicable.
In any action arising solely under laws for which authorities were transferred under subtitles F and H, the Bureau may commence, defend, or intervene in the action in accordance with the requirements of that provision of law, as applicable.
The court (or the Bureau, as the case may be) in an action or adjudication proceeding brought under Federal consumer financial law, shall have jurisdiction to grant any appropriate legal or equitable relief with respect to a violation of Federal consumer financial law, including a violation of a rule or order prescribed under a Federal consumer financial law.
Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as authorizing the imposition of exemplary or punitive damages.
In any action brought by the Bureau, a State attorney general, or any State regulator to enforce any Federal consumer financial law, the Bureau, the State attorney general, or the State regulator may recover its costs in connection with prosecuting such action if the Bureau, the State attorney general, or the State regulator is the prevailing party in the action.
Any person that violates, through any act or omission, any provision of Federal consumer financial law shall forfeit and pay a civil penalty pursuant to this subsection.
For any violation of a law, rule, or final order or condition imposed in writing by the Bureau, a civil penalty may not exceed $5,000 for each day during which such violation or failure to pay continues.
Notwithstanding paragraph (A), for any person that recklessly engages in a violation of a Federal consumer financial law, a civil penalty may not exceed $25,000 for each day during which such violation continues.
Notwithstanding subparagraphs (A) and (B), for any person that knowingly violates a Federal consumer financial law, a civil penalty may not exceed $1,000,000 for each day during which such violation continues.
The Bureau may compromise, modify, or remit any penalty which may be assessed or had already been assessed under paragraph (2). The amount of such penalty, when finally determined, shall be exclusive of any sums owed by the person to the United States in connection with the costs of the proceeding, and may be deducted from any sums owing by the United States to the person charged.
If the Bureau obtains evidence that any person, domestic or foreign, has engaged in conduct that may constitute a violation of Federal criminal law, the Bureau shall transmit such evidence to the Attorney General of the United States, who may institute criminal proceedings under appropriate law. Nothing in this section affects any other authority of the Bureau to disclose information.
For the purposes of this section, the term “covered employee” means any individual performing tasks related to the offering or provision of a consumer financial product or service.
A person who believes that he or she has been discharged or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation of subsection (a) may, not later than 180 days after the date on which such alleged violation occurs, file (or have any person file on his or her behalf) a complaint with the Secretary of Labor alleging such discharge or discrimination and identifying the person responsible for such act.
If the Secretary of Labor concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that a violation of subsection (a) has occurred, the Secretary of Labor shall, together with the notice under subparagraph (A)(ii), issue a preliminary order providing the relief prescribed by paragraph (4)(B).
Not later than 30 days after the date of receipt of notification of a determination of the Secretary of Labor under this paragraph, either the person alleged to have committed the violation or the complainant may file objections to the findings or preliminary order, or both, and request a hearing on the record. The filing of such objections shall not operate to stay any reinstatement remedy contained in the preliminary order. Any such hearing shall be conducted expeditiously, and if a hearing is not requested in such 30-day period, the preliminary order shall be deemed a final order that is not subject to judicial review.
The Secretary of Labor shall dismiss a complaint filed under this subsection, and shall not conduct an investigation otherwise required under paragraph (2), unless the complainant makes a prima facie showing that any behavior described in paragraphs (1) through (4) of subsection (a) was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint.
Notwithstanding a finding by the Secretary of Labor that the complainant has made the showing required under subparagraph (A), no investigation otherwise required under paragraph (2) shall be conducted, if the employer demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the employer would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of that behavior.
The Secretary of Labor may determine that a violation of subsection (a) has occurred only if the complainant demonstrates that any behavior described in paragraphs (1) through (4) of subsection (a) was a contributing factor in the unfavorable personnel action alleged in the complaint. Relief may not be ordered under subparagraph (A) if the employer demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence that the employer would have taken the same unfavorable personnel action in the absence of that behavior.
Not later than 120 days after the date of conclusion of any hearing under paragraph (2), the Secretary of Labor shall issue a final order providing the relief prescribed by this paragraph or denying the complaint. At any time before issuance of a final order, a proceeding under this subsection may be terminated on the basis of a settlement agreement entered into by the Secretary of Labor, the complainant, and the person alleged to have committed the violation.
If an order is issued under clause (i), the Secretary of Labor, at the request of the complainant, shall assess against the person against whom the order is issued, a sum equal to the aggregate amount of all costs and expenses (including attorney fees and expert witness fees) reasonably incurred, as determined by the Secretary of Labor, by the complainant for, or in connection with, the bringing of the complaint upon which the order was issued.
If the Secretary of Labor finds that a complaint under paragraph (1) is frivolous or has been brought in bad faith, the Secretary of Labor may award to the prevailing employer a reasonable attorney fee, not exceeding $1,000, to be paid by the complainant.
If the Secretary of Labor has not issued a final order within 210 days after the date of filing of a complaint under this subsection, or within 90 days after the date of receipt of a written determination, the complainant may bring an action at law or equity for de novo review in the appropriate district court of the United States having jurisdiction, which shall have jurisdiction over such an action without regard to the amount in controversy, and which action shall, at the request of either party to such action, be tried by the court with a jury.
Unless the complainant brings an action under subparagraph (D), any person adversely affected or aggrieved by a final order issued under subparagraph (A) may file a petition for review of the order in the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the violation with respect to which the order was issued, allegedly occurred or the circuit in which the complainant resided on the date of such violation, not later than 60 days after the date of the issuance of the final order of the Secretary of Labor under subparagraph (A). Review shall conform to chapter 7 of title 5. The commencement of proceedings under this subparagraph shall not, unless ordered by the court, operate as a stay of the order. An order of the Secretary of Labor with respect to which review could have been obtained under this subparagraph shall not be subject to judicial review in any criminal or other civil proceeding.
If any person has failed to comply with a final order issued under paragraph (4), the Secretary of Labor may file a civil action in the United States district court for the district in which the violation was found to have occurred, or in the United States district court for the District of Columbia, to enforce such order. In actions brought under this paragraph, the district courts shall have jurisdiction to grant all appropriate relief including injunctive relief and compensatory damages.
A person on whose behalf an order was issued under paragraph (4) may commence a civil action against the person to whom such order was issued to require compliance with such order. The appropriate United States district court shall have jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties, to enforce such order.
The court, in issuing any final order under this paragraph, may award costs of litigation (including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees) to any party, whenever the court determines such award is appropriate.
Any nondiscretionary duty imposed by this section shall be enforceable in a mandamus proceeding brought under section 1361 of title 28.
Except as provided under paragraph (3), and notwithstanding any other provision of law, the rights and remedies provided for in this section may not be waived by any agreement, policy, form, or condition of employment, including by any predispute arbitration agreement.
Except as provided under paragraph (3), and notwithstanding any other provision of law, no predispute arbitration agreement shall be valid or enforceable to the extent that it requires arbitration of a dispute arising under this section.
Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), an arbitration provision in a collective bargaining agreement shall be enforceable as to disputes arising under subsection (a)(4), unless the Bureau determines, by rule, that such provision is inconsistent with the purposes of this title.1