The plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit allege that Head Mercantile Co. sent their employers facsimile communications regarding their own debt. This act caused plaintiffs severe stress, harassment, humiliation, and embarrassment in the workplace
One plaintiff in this case, Nyoka Sumerall, is a resident of Cleveland, Ohio. HMC was the company responsible for billing and collecting debt from a loan for Sumerall’s used vehicle. Around January 20, 2016, HMC’s employee Mary Jordan sent a facsimile communication to Sumerall’s employer, a third party, regarding her consumer debt. The communication also requested verification of Sumerall’s employment and her status as a full-time or part-time employee. HMC never obtained Sumerall’s concent to communicate her debt to her employer. The communication contained the following language: “This is an attempt by a debt collector to collect a debt; any information obtained will be used for that purpose.” This event was extraordinarily embarrassing for Sumerall, yet HMC denied any communications with her employer.
This conduct by HMC was in line with a policy or custom of the company and was an ordinary practice. HMC contacted a variety of employers in order to gain information on those who held debt.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act was designed to address and prevent this exact type of communication. It specifically prohibits collectors from disclosing the existence of a debt to third parties, and has specific regulations applicable to contact with employers to prevent embarrassment.
Based on the facts of the case, the plaintiffs allege that Head Mercantile Co. violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Ohio Consumer Sales Practice Act by disclosing private debt information to their employees without obtaining consent.