If debt collectors at NCO Financial Systems thought they could get away with annoying Whataburger Restaurants while trying to get one of its employees to pay up on an alleged debt owned, well, they’ve got another think coming. The burger chain is taking the side of its employee and is suing NCO over what it’s calling “harassment.”
Officials at Whataburger are apparently exasperated over unrelenting calls made to the corporate headquarters in the hunt for an unnamed employee. It’s taking NCO to court, saying the efforts “amount to a campaign of harassment against Whataburger that is unreasonable … and reckless.”
What’s that, you say? It’s weird that a corporation would be defending its employee? Yep, it is kind of odd, says one lawyer who defends individuals in such cases.
“I guess the word I would use is refreshing,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s good to see that an employer would step in, rather than blame the employee – which is what debt collectors want them to do.”
Whataburger wouldn’t comment on the details of the case, or what kind of debt or the amount supposedly owed by the employee. But in the lawsuit, the chain says the calls have been coming despite a cease-and-desist-letter issued on July 16 to NCO. Since June, there have allegedly been more than 50 calls made to Whataburger’s toll-free number.
NCO’s “disruptive conduct causes phone lines to ring, keeping the phone lines as well as Whataburger employees occupied and prohibiting (them) from performing their respective duties,” the suit claims.
Debt collectors know where you work, so companies will go after people there in an effort to tick off employers enough that the individual will pay up to make the calls stop. But Whataburger isn’t sitting for that. It’s seeking unspecified actual damages to cover the toll charges for the long-distance calls, and punitive damages as well.
Whataburger claims that since at least 27 calls were made after the cease-and-desist, NCO is in violation of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. It wants up to $1,000 for each call.
Whatanemployer, that Whataburger.
*Thanks for the tip, Kat!
Court case not the way Whataburger likes it [Houston Chronicle]