Employment: The Employer's Guide To Navigating The Continuing Postjudgment Garnishment Summons - Part I
Wage garnishment is a legal procedure through which a percentage of a person's earnings are withheld by an employer for the payment of a debt. As the employer, you have certain rights, responsibilities, and there are potential liabilities in this process.
What laws governs garnishment?
First, there is an Oklahoma law on the topic. Second, the federal law, Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA), applies to garnishments. These laws describe the rights of all the parties. The trick is that they don’t always agree. Generally speaking, if the two laws are in direct conflict, the federal law trumps if it is more favorable to the employee being garnished. Bottom line: this seems like simple stuff, but it’s not.
What types of garnishment are there?
There are several types of garnishments. The most common garnishment an employer receives (and the one we will be discussing) is a “Continuing Postjudgment Earnings Garnishment Summons.” This requires an employer to garnish an employee’s wages for a specified period to satisfy a lawful judgment against the employee.
Who are the players?
There are several players in a continuing garnishment action.
(1) The Court: the court is responsible for issuing the judgment against the employee in the first place. You will file all documents with the Court, and the Court will resolve any disputes concerning whether the appropriate garnishment procedure has been followed.
(2) The Garnishee: the garnishee is you, the employer. You are the garnishee because you the employer are garnishing the employee’s wages.
(3) The Judgment Creditor: the judgment creditor is the entity your employee owes. You pay the withheld wages to either the judgment creditor or, if they are represented by an attorney, the judgment creditor’s attorney.
(4) The Judgment Debtor: the judgment debtor is your employee (or former employee as the case may be).
Next month, we will walk you through the completion and satisfaction of a continuing postjudgment earnings garnishment summons.
If between now and next month, you are caught having to respond, please do so carefully. Read and follow all directions. Keep records to prove you properly complied. Finally, when in doubt, you may need to call an attorney who is familiar with this process. The penalty for not properly garnishing your employee’s wages is that you – the employer – may owe the full debt to the Judgment Creditor.
By McLaine DeWitt Herndon, firstname.lastname@example.org