Garnishment

What Happens if an Employer Ignores a Wage Garnishment?

When you receive notification of wage garnishment, you probably already know that your employer will be notified.  You may also wonder what might happen if your employer ignores the writ of garnishment and refuses to withhold a portion of your wages. Would it really be so bad if they did? The truth might surprise you!

What is Wage Garnishment and Why Does It Happen?

Wage garnishment is the common name given to a legal process that enables companies or creditors that you owe money to recoup that money with the cooperation of your employer. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but those reasons are always related to an outstanding debt. 

When you receive notification of wage garnishment, you can feel very embarrassed, frustrated, and isolated. However, it is important to remember that the process is actually fairly common, especially in particular demographics and age groups. The number of people in the United States who are employed and having a portion of those wages garnished ranges from 7-10%, which amounts to millions of people going through exactly what you are now!

Garnishment requires a court order. Some common sources of debt that might lead to wages being garnished include: 

  • Student loans
  • Consumer debt
  • Unpaid taxes
  • Owed child support, alimony, and other debts

Many times, your wages will start being garnished after you have defaulted on a loan, line of credit, or other financial responsibility. When this happens, you receive a default judgment, and garnishment orders are issued. A writ of garnishment – the official title of the document outlining the terms of your garnishment – is sent to the garnishment employer. After that, they are to begin withholding the employee’s wages.

You do have legal rights in the process of wage garnishment. There are maximum amounts that can be withheld, based on a variety of factors as well as the state you live in. When you find out that you will be liable for repayment of debt through garnished wages, you would be best served to promptly consult with a lawyer who can help you navigate the process and understand those rights.

What is an Employer’s Role in the Garnishment Process?

Since wages are technically withheld by the employer in a garnishment case, it stands to reason that there are specifically outlined employer responsibilities that are legally binding. As such, there are certain legal responsibilities that an employer takes on when they receive a garnishment order. 

The first of these is prompt communication. Not only is it legally necessary to communicate promptly and effectively throughout the garnishment process, but it can also take a lot of the confusion out of that process. Responding promptly to the order will ensure that everyone involved in the process is in the loop throughout. 

Next, remember that an employer cannot legally fire an employee because of wage garnishment. If there are other reasons to terminate employment, those should be documented so as not to incur legal action against the company for violating the law. 

Be sure that the employee is properly notified of their wages being withheld. An employer may receive relevant paperwork as part of the garnishment order to do this.  Also, be sure that your payroll department is aware of the situation. Keeping everyone well-informed is the best way to smooth the process for all involved.

If administrative costs are incurred as part of the garnishment process, an employer has the right in some states to seek repayment of these costs by the employee. However, if these costs are minimal, it may not be worth the trouble to do so. Consult with a legal professional to better understand the employer’s rights in this scenario. 

Obviously, wage garnishment is a legal order and is therefore mandatory under most state laws. Some states, such as North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania do not allow wages to be withheld for consumer debts like defaulted credit cards, etc. However, wage garnishment for things like child support is always allowed by law – and failure to comply on the part of the employer or employee can lead to serious consequences.

What Happens When an Employer Does Not Withold Wages?

So, what can happen to your employer if they ignore the writ of garnishment? Is it worth it for them to do so if you have been a valued employee? 

No. Because no matter how good an employee you are or how much they like you as a person, their business and personal finances stand to take a serious hit if they ignore the garnishment order against you. 

How big of a hit? Some of the things your employer may deal with if they ignore your creditor garnishment include: 

  • Becoming personally financially responsible for the full amount of your garnishment.
  • Becoming personally financially liable in full for your entire judgment amount.
  • Becoming liable for paying all associated court costs and fees associated with the process.

Failure to submit to these responsibilities could even lead to jail time for them. By simply ignoring their legal responsibility to withhold a portion of an employee’s wages, their business and personal life could be ruined forever. This is why, no matter how much your boss may like you, they cannot afford to let you off the hook for those withheld wages.

There are certain circumstances where an employer may be able to avoid withholding wages or being otherwise involved in the garnishment process. However, these circumstances do not apply to all or even the majority of cases. What is more, they can be confusing in the ways that they are employed. To avoid running into legal trouble, a business should always contact a lawyer before attempting to sidestep the garnishment process.

If you still need legal advice regarding the garnishment process, contact the team at the Van Horn Law Group. Whether you are an employer or an employee, we can help you navigate the entire process and get the best possible outcome. Do not let wage garnishment cause you undue stress. Let us help you manage the process and make it easier for everyone involved!

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What Happens if an Employer Ignores a Wage Garnishment?
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Because no matter how good an employee you are or how much they like you as a person, their business and personal finances stand to take a serious hit if they ignore the garnishment order against you.
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Chad Van horn
Van Horn Law Group
Van Horn Law Group
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Chad Van Horn

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