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Wage Garnishment

Sometimes, there are outstanding debts that must be paid to a third party. If the third party obtains a court judgment, the third party may garnish your wages, meaning payments to satisfy the debt will be taken from your pay check. Wage garnishment is a legal procedure and could be used to pay obligations such as child support.

Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) is administered by the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) of the U.S. Department of Labor.

It protects employees from having too much of their wages garnished or being fired for a single garnishment. The amount of your wages in one week that can be garnished to pay a debt are also limited. 

Your employer knows of your wage garnishments but cannot fire you based solely on your wages being garnished. However, you are not protected from discharge if your earnings have been subject to garnishment for a second or subsequent debt.

Title III applies to all employers and individuals who receive earnings for personal services, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses and even pensions. It does not ordinarily include tips because tips are not considered earnings for purposes of the wage garnishment law.

If you think your employer has violated wage garnishment laws, you can file a complaint with the WHD. To file a complaint, contact your nearest Wage and Hour Division office or call the department's toll-free Wage and Hour Help Line at 1-866-4-US-WAGE.  

An employer who violates Title III may be required to reinstate the discharged employee, pay back wages and restore any improperly garnished amounts. Employers who willfully violate the discharge provisions of the law may be prosecuted criminally and fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.

The National Labor Relations Board does not enforce wage garnishment provisions of the various statutes.

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