Wage Garnishment in New Jersey: Can You Sue the Boss?
Many states allow for child support to be automatically deducted from a parent’s paycheck. This is known as wage garnishment and it is permitted in New Jersey. After obtaining a wage garnishment order from the court, the non-custodial parent’s wages are reduced by the amount owed for child support. This can be done on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis, and usually reflects the employee’s pay cycle.
However, a recent case out of Florida shows what can happen if the parent’s employer fails to properly institute the court ordered wage garnishment. According to a blog post by Gordon Gibb of lawyersandsettlements.com, in the case of Klara Sperry-Ohall v. OSI Restaurant Partners LLC, the required amount of wages to be withheld from the former partner of the plaintiff—an employee at Outback Steakhouse—was well below the ordered amount, the lawsuit alleged, due to a miscalculation on the part of the defendant.
The lawsuit brought by the custodial parent against the operator of the Outback Steakhouse facility in Florida, accuses Outback of improperly calculating Sperry’s wages according to the requirements of the garnishment order. While Outback, according to the lawsuit, duly calculated and paid the correct amount of federal tax based on Sperry’s hourly wage including all tips and gratuities, the garnishment requirement that all remaining wages after tax and including tips are eligible for deduction up to 65 percent of total wages in order to achieve the required wage garnishment, was found to be lacking—in this case, a deduction of less than $200 per month for the required child support payment v. $864 per month as required by the wage garnishment order.
Outback is accused of calculating Sperry’s income for the purposes of wage garnishment based on his hourly wage less tips.
The plaintiff is seeking, through an employment lawsuit filed against Outback Steakhouse, Inc. an award in excess of $15,000, plus legal fees and court costs.
The statue that governs this issue in New Jersey is N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 2A:17-56.11, 2A:17-56.12, 2C:40A-3. Under that statute, it states, “For failing to withhold child support payments, [the employer is] liable for a fine up to amount not withheld as well as interest and attorneys’ fees, similar to the Florida law.
What do you think? Should the employer of a child support obligor be liable to pay child support if it fails to properly garnish child support payments from that obligor’s paycheck?
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If you are having issues collecting or making your child support payments, we are able to help. Please contact Brunetti, Donnelly & Gulczynski to set up your free consultation, today.