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Recently I have received garnishment summons on employees.

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Recently I have received garnishment summons on employees. The summons is from a district court in Oklahoma and will state the plaintiff and a defendant (our employee) and us (Bob Bartley Electric, Inc) the employer as the garnishee.
Bob Bartley Electric, Inc. has no interest in this debt and no responsibility to pay this debt. We also have no desire to garnish our employee's wages for this debt. We actually have no desire to write this email to find out what to do in these cases, but I want to make sure we are acting legally if we choose to ignore this summons or what to say to the plaintiff if we should call and ask them to cease sending us the summons.
So, my question to you is, as a corporation, what do we do when we receive a garnishment summons on one of our employees?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  John replied 11 months ago.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. The State of Oklahoma allows a continuing wage garnishment, which lasts for 180 days. Generally, a judgment creditor may only garnish up to 25% of a judgment debtor's wages. However, if the judgment debtor establishes hardship, the amount that the judgment creditor may garnish is reduced.

 

The garnishee, you in this instance has to answer the garnishment and withhold, or the garnishee risks being held liable for the debt and/or penalized by the court. See Oklahoma statute:
§12-1179. If any garnishee, having been duly summoned, shall fail to file and deliver or mail the answer as required by Sections 1172.2, 1178, 1178.1 or 1178.2 of this title, to appear for deposition or to answer interrogatories as provided in Section 1183 of this title, the court shall enter an order to the garnishee to file and deliver or mail the answer, to appear for deposition, or to answer the interrogatories within a time prescribed by the court, not to be less than seven (7) days, in the order and also to deliver within the same period of time to the court or the judgment creditor any money or property of defendant that the garnishee is required to pay or deliver under this title. The court shall also direct the manner in which notice of the order shall be given to the garnishee. The order for giving notice shall specify a manner of giving notice which is calculated to be most likely to give actual notice to the garnishee or its managing officers, directors, or agents. The order shall specifically inform the garnishee that the garnishee has failed to respond to the summons and shall specifically advise the garnishee that judgment will be rendered against it in the principal amount of the judgment against the defendant plus costs, which amounts will be specified, upon failure to conform with the requirements of the order. If the garnishee shall fail to file and deliver or mail the answer affidavit as required in the order, appear for deposition, or to answer interrogatories as provided in the order, then the court shall render judgment against the garnishee for the amount of the judgment and costs due the judgment creditor from the defendant in the principal action together with the costs of the garnishment, including a reasonable attorney's fee to the judgment creditor for prosecuting the garnishment. The garnishee may also be subject to punishment for contempt; provided, however, the court shall have power to vacate or modify any order issued pursuant to this section in the manner provided in Sections 1031 or 1031.1 of this title.

You’ll need to respond filling out and filing with the court, and copying the plaintiff and defendant this answer/affidavit . You'll likewise have to make the appropriate withholding and forward them to the court. Otherwise you risk your company being held liable.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – select the Reply to Expert or Continue Conversation button. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

 

Customer: replied 11 months ago.


Why is it that an employer has to take the time to do this? I have no interest or responsibility. What is the correct way to fill out this affidavit and how do I file with a court? I wish I had time for such things but I do not. My only responsibility is to hand this over to our employee and tell him to take care of this as it is not our debt. Please explain why we have any responsibility at all.

Expert:  John replied 11 months ago.

If you want to ignore it or give it to the employee to “take care of” that’s certainly your decision to make…but you’ll be risking yourself more problems than you resolved…namely having to go to a deposition or court hearing(s) later. I understand it is not your problem, but the law of your state requires employer’s of such persons to withhold wages in this manner. The law I cited above is directly quoted from your state’s laws and it confirms my opinion that, if you do not comply with the garnishment, your company itself can be held liable for the debt. If you give it to the employee to fill out and file, you put your company’s liability in his/her hands.

There should be information in the summons you received with instructions on how to fill out the affidavit and answer and file it with the court. If you have issues with it, I’d suggest you call the plaintiff/creditor attorney and have them send you a pre-filled form and then you only have to calculate the amounts to be garnished. You have to garnish (withhold and submit to the plaintiffs attorney) 25% of disposable earnings. An employee’s "disposable earnings" is the amount of earnings left after legally required deductions (e.g., federal, state and local taxes; Social Security; unemployment insurance; and state employee retirement systems) have been made. Deductions not required by law (e.g., union dues, health and life insurance, and charitable contributions) are not subtracted from gross earnings when the amount of disposable earnings for garnishment purposes is calculated
Customer: replied 11 months ago.


I chose to fill in #5 with "Bob Bartley Electric, Inc. is not indebted to plaintiff and has no liability to withhold any garnishment from Michael Becker, defendant. I will mail this to the Oklahoma county District Court Clerk and the attorney for judgment creditor.

Expert:  John replied 11 months ago.

If you owe a wage to the person, then you are indebted to him/her…just so you know. I’m not telling you what to do or how to operate your business.


Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks and good luck with the matter.

Customer: replied 11 months ago.


I wrote that I am not indebted to the plaintiff. (My employee is the defendant in this matter). and that I have no liability to withhold any garnishment from my employee, the defendant.

Expert:  John replied 11 months ago.

Great, hopefully that will conclude the issue with the court and plaintiff. Have I sufficiently answered your questions today?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.


Well I hope so. I'm not an attorney. Just trying to stand up for my rights as an employer. Employers are not responsible for their employee's debts neither are they responsible for their employee's child support, etc. I could be a much more effective employer if I did not have to babysit my employees!

Expert:  John replied 11 months ago.

You're welcome. Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks and good luck with the matter.

John, Attorney
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Experience: Licensed and practicing attorney helping businesses achieve their legal and practical goals.
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