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March 16, 2010
Determining Priority or Process Order for Multiple Garnishments

In a BLR webinar entitled ‘Payroll: How To Legally Handle Tax Levies and Garnishments’, attorneys Clint Robison and Amy Jensen discuss the approach to dealing with the processing of multiple garnishments and which garnishment has priority:

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  • Priority is not technically covered by Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act; Court or Agency initiating garnishment action may have to provide guidance
  • Generally, if there is more than one garnishment, one may have priority over others, e.g. child support orders or bankruptcy order, usually have priority over other garnishments
  • A bankruptcy trustee order, for example, could be provided and can state that all other garnishments including child support, must be stopped in preference to the bankruptcy order
  • If the bankruptcy order is not adhered to, creditors may be paid multiple times by error and this can place the employer at risk for law suits or other legal consequences for taking garnishments when they were not authorized to do so
  • Since there may be several garnishments at a time, this may result in a garnishment not being taken during a pay period
  • Also, if the employee is a federal employee or an active military employee, undertaking a garnishment can become cumbersome. There are specific rules that need to be followed in such cases and it is recommended that legal counsel is consulted

Clint Robison is a highly regarded employment attorney providing counseling and litigation services to public and private companies. He is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Hinshaw & Culbertson, one of the largest and oldest law firms in the country, where he leads its west coast labor and employment practice. Clint Robinson can be reached at crobison@hinshawlaw.com. Amy Jensen is a senior employment attorney in the firm's Los Angeles office, who provides counseling and litigation services to a variety of companies, including restaurant, retail, manufacturing, and financial companies. She can be reached at ajensen@hinshawlaw.com.

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