Wage garnishment (also known as wage attachment or wage assignment) is a legal procedure in which a person's earnings are required by court order to be withheld by an employer for the payment of a debt such as child support, spousal or partner support, or a judgment in a civil lawsuit.
Title III of the federal Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) prohibits an employer from discharging an employee whose earnings have been subject to garnishment for any one debt, regardless of the number of levies made or proceedings brought to collect it. Title III also limits the amount of an employee’s earnings that may be garnished in any one week. But it does not protect an employee from discharge if the employee's earnings have been subject to garnishment for a second or subsequent debts.
Title III applies to all individuals who receive personal earnings and to their employers. Personal earnings include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and income from a pension or retirement program, but does not ordinarily include tips.
States also have laws governing wage garnishment, attachment, or assignment, and these laws vary from state to state.