Garnishment in MN

When I meet with people who are going through a financial rough patch, they are usually concerned about the possibility of their wages being garnished. This is a reasonable fear, because according to a recent article in the New York Times, garnishments are becoming more common.

In Minnesota, garnishment is governed by Minn. Stat. § 571.71 et seq Generally garnishment occurs after there has been a judgment, but garnishment is authorized without a judgment in certain circumstances. See Minn. Stat. § 571.71. See also Minn. Stat. § 571.93. Wages and bank accounts can be garnished.

Certain property is exempt from garnishment in Minnesota. See Minn. Stat. § 550.37. One particularly important exemption is that “…the earnings or salary of a person who is a recipient of government assistance based on need, shall be exempt from all claims of creditors.” See Minn. Stat. § 550.37, subd. 14.

It is common for people to be embarrassed about the possibility of their employer knowing about their financial difficulties (if their wages get garnished). I try to remind these people that if it happens, they probably are not the first employee to have their wages garnished, and they probably won’t be the last employee to have their wages garnished.

Another common fear is the debtor’s fear of losing their job when their employer receives notice that the debtor’s wages are being garnished. Minnesota law protects employees from being discharged or disciplined due to a wage garnishment. See Minn. Stat. § 571.927.

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