Notified of a Garnishment? How the Payroll Department Can and Can't Help

10 March 2020
 Categories: Law, Blog

Have you been notified from your employer's payroll or human resources department that they have received a notice of garnishment? When this happens, most employees turn to their payroll department for help in understanding the garnishment and handling the fallout. But there are only certain things that your employer can do at this point.

What are some of these things and what can they not do for you? Here are a few answers. 

1. Payroll Cannot Stop the Garnishment. Once a garnishment is received by your employer, they must enforce it according to the rules laid out in the documentation. No matter how the employer or payroll technician feels about the fairness or unfairness of this garnishment, they have no choice in the matter. Even though this is an emotionally charged situation for you, try to remain calm and respectful. 

2. Payroll Must Provide Documentation. Your payroll department is obligated to do one very helpful thing: provide you with a copy of the garnishment paperwork. This is particularly useful as it sets out the details of the debt as well as instructions for how to get hold of the creditor (either to work out payment or to notify of incorrect debts) and what amounts will be deducted and when. Read over these details to understand your rights and options.

3. Payroll Should Verify the Documents. Garnishments are only issued once the proper court process has been completed by the creditor. It is a legal document that follows a certain prescribed format and includes mandatory information. The payroll department should never execute an improperly written, incomplete, or suspicious garnishment order. If you or they have concerns, they should contact the court involved to verify that the order is legitimate. 

4. Payroll Should Respond Speedily. If the garnishment is incorrect and you can obtain a stop from the creditor, notify the payroll department immediately. They must receive any changes in the garnishment order through authorized paperwork, but they can usually implement those changes immediately. Speed is of the essence, so develop a positive relationship with your payroll representative to work as a team to minimize the damage. 

5. Payroll Must Respond to Bankruptcy Orders. For many people, a garnishment is one of the final straws that leads to a bankruptcy declaration. If you are pursuing this legal tool, it will likely stop the garnishment and other collections efforts. Payroll must respond to such an order in the same way that it must respond to the initial garnishment. If that does not happen, you should consult with an experienced attorney. 

Has your employer's payroll department shirked any of its duties regarding a garnishment? Do you need help determining if it is legitimate or what your legal options are at this stage? Learn more by making an appointment with companies such as Alaska Cascade Financial Services.