Clients occasionally ask us questions about employee garnishment notices. A wage garnishment is the process of deducting money from an employee’s wages, usually as a result of a court order. Garnishments may be obtained for a variety of legal issues, including credit collection, child support, defaulted student loans, taxes, or unpaid court fines.

Washington law recognizes that garnishment of wages, funds or other property “is necessary for the enforcement of obligations of debtors.” RCW 6.27.005. In general, wage garnishments may be served on the garnishee (i.e., the employer) in most cases by certified mail. RCW 6.27.110. But, proper service of a writ of garnishment on the State or a local government requires service in the same manner as in other civil suits. RCW 6.27.040. That means personal service of the writ, not mailed service, may be required for garnishments directed at State or local government employers. Note, if the creditor is the state or federal government, the rules may differ. Be sure to check the creditor’s authority and required process before implementing a wage garnishment.

If you have questions about a garnishment order or other employee compensation issue, please contact the Foster Pepper Employment and Labor Relations Group.

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