Can a Garnishment Keep Me From Getting a Job?

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Garnishment allows regular deductions from your paycheck to satisfy a debt. The action is possible after a debt collector or someone else successfully sues you in court and wins a monetary judgment. A second legal order forces your employer to comply with court-ordered garnishment. Garnishments are embarrassing for employees and bothersome for employers. It is possible that a garnishment could keep you from getting a job, but no one can say for sure.

Background Checks

  • Employers generally do not disclose reasons for their hiring decisions---including the decision not to hire someone. That makes it difficult for anyone to know when garnishment kills a potential job offer. Employers prefer not to disclose reasons for not making a hire to avoid possible charges of discrimination based on age, race, sex or something else. Final hiring decisions usually are made after a background check, which could include a review of your credit. Garnishment activity usually serves as a red flag for employers.

Standards

  • Garnishments and credit problems are not always an issue, and not all employers check credit. A senior manager in charge of an entire department is more likely to undergo a credit check than an entry-level, hourly worker. Employers expect a senior manager to have sound financial judgment, and one way to determine that is to check credit and background files for signs of bankruptcies, judgments, garnishments and more.

Special Jobs

  • Garnishment may automatically rule you out for a job if you are working in certain fields such as insurance, financial services or banking. Some people working in those areas are expected to have excellent credit because of the nature of their jobs. In addition to possibly handling money, people in these fields are expected to advise customers about credit and financial decisions. Banks and other companies may feel the overall quality of their workers is tarnished if people with active garnishments are hired for important positions.

Exceptions

  • Employers realize that everyone is susceptible to credit and financial problems. People lose jobs through no fault of their own, become ill or are forced into a difficult divorce. All those issues can cause severe financial problems, including garnishments. A candidate who is a finalist for a job should disclose garnishment issues before agreeing to a background check. It is much better to tell the hiring manager or human resources representative about the problem than allow her to discover it during the review of your credit.

Ending Garnishment

  • The best solution is to end garnishment by paying off the debt or making other payment arrangements with the debt collector. The debt collector may accept an offer to pay by certified check each month if you are willing to pay an additional fee for the arrangement, equal to say, 20 percent of the remaining balance. Offer to pay the fee plus make three payments in advance in exchange for a written offer ending garnishment.

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