Whataburger Sues Debt Collector NCO, Takes Up For Employee After Harassing Calls

Kim LaCapria

Whataburger pulled an opposite-Chick-Fil-A this week, suing a debt collector notorious for harassing phone calls after the agency refused to stop calling the chain's toll-free number to attempt to collect a debt from an unnamed employee.

Whataburger's bravery and kindness to the employee -- who we don't even know legitimately owes a debt to debt collector NCO -- is sure to resound with many Americans right now as the longest recession in the history of the world (or so it feels like) shows no sign of abating and people from all walks of life find themselves on the receiving end of aggressive debt collection just like the Whataburger employee.

Whataburger's suit against NCO debt collection is also one that will likely leave a positive impression on consumers given the fact that in this economy, workers are used to being used and tossed away should management get a hint anything has gone wrong in their lives. And it's this level of shame that collections companies like NCO rely on, in practices many internet users say violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act as after explaining to NCO that they're not allowed to take calls at work, the calls just keep on coming. (According to many internet commenters, they're calls for someone else entirely also, as NCO has a habit of buying old debts.)

Lawyer who specializes in debt collection action H. Anthony Hervol commented on the Whataburger debt collection case, expressing the same feeling that the chain's action protecting themselves and the employee is noble:

"I guess the word I would use is refreshing ... 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."

In the suit, Whataburger alleges that 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." Among damages sought are $1,000 per call violation after July 16, including at least 27 calls to Whataburger headquarters from NCO.