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October 08, 2010
Voluntary Wage Deductions and Wage Assignments

Cheryl Orr and Heather Sager discuss wage deductions in a BLR webinar entitled ‘Wage Payments: What You Can and Can’t Legally Deduct from Employees’ Pay’. They provide the following information about wage deductions and wage assignments.

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  • Wage deductions can be voluntary or involuntary
  • There is also a distinction between a wage assignment and a wage garnishment
  • An wage assignment is typically something that is voluntary. It does not occur frequently
  • A wage garnishment implies that a portion of the employee’s wages is going to someone else. Usually, wage garnishments are not voluntary.
  • A garnishment is a court order. However, an assignment is usually something that an employee proactively seeks out or proactively negotiates with their employer. In the case of a garnishment, the employee really has no choice but the comply with the court order or the employee can choose to see an exemption
  • An assignment can be treated similarly to a garnishment, but is more voluntary rather than the creditor needing to obtain a court document forces the garnishment of wages
  • The employer should obtain proper documentation that shows that the employee agrees to the assignment of wages

Cheryl D. Orr, Esq. is a partner and co-chair of the national Labor and Employment Practice Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP ( She concentrates her practice on defending employers against FLSA collective actions and state and federal wage and hour class actions, and she regularly litigates discrimination, harassment, and unfair competition claims, conducts high-level workplace investigations, develops plans for reductions in force, and offers employer advice and counseling. Orr frequently lectures on employment law topics.

Heather M. Sager, Esq. is also a partner in the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Sager focuses her practice on management-side representation in collective and class actions, with particular experience in wage and hour litigation under state and federal law, including representative claims brought under California Business & Professions Code Section 17200. She also regularly handles single and multi-plaintiff employment litigation in the areas of unfair competition, wrongful discharge, harassment and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative agencies. In addition, Sager regularly provides management training seminars and advice and counsel on reductions in force, employee relations, and workplace policies and procedures for the firm’s clients.

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