Can Employers Fire You for Wage Garnishments?

A wage garnishment is a legal document that your employer is required to comply with. Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) sets federal wage garnishment laws, which include the maximum your employer can deduct from your wages and the conditions under which he can discharge you.

  1. Federal Law

    • Under Title III of the CCPA, your employer cannot fire you because she received a single wage garnishment against you. However, the law does not protect you if your employer receives more than one wage garnishment against you. Title III also restricts the amount your employer can deduct from your weekly pay to the lesser of 25 percent of your disposable income or the total by which your disposable income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage.

    State Requirement

    • Many states have wage garnishment laws pertaining to wage garnishment deduction limits and discharge provisions. If both federal and state laws apply, your employer uses the law that offers you the smaller garnishment deduction and the most discharge benefits. For example, your employer will apply state law if that law prohibits the employer from firing you because he received more than one wage garnishment against you. Contact the court that issued the wage garnishment, your local courthouse or your state labor department for your state's discharge provisions.

    Penalties

    • If your employer violates the Title III discharge provisions, he can be required to reinstate (rehire) the terminated employee, pay her back wages and restore any incorrectly garnished amounts. Intentional violation of the Title III discharge laws can result in the employer facing criminal prosecution and a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment of up to one year, or both.

    Considerations

    • You can contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, if your employer fires you solely because she received one wage garnishment against you. Contact your state labor department or the court that issued the wage garnishment if your employer violated your state's discharge laws. Unlike creditors, legal entities such as the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Education and your state taxation agency do not need a court order to garnish or levy your wages. These types of deductions are forms of garnishment and are therefore included when counting the number of garnishments your employer receives against you.

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