New York City Debt Collection Defense Attorney

Know Your Rights Against Wage Garnishment Discrimination in New York

Getting your wages garnished due to debt can be stressful enough. But did you know that under New York law, your employer cannot legally punish you for it?

As set forth below, New York CPLR § 5252 prohibits discrimination against employees based on wage garnishments or income executions.

What Counts as Illegal Wage Discrimination?

This law makes it unlawful for any employer to discharge, lay off, refuse to promote or hire, or otherwise discipline an employee because one or more wage assignments (garnishments) have been issued against their pay. The same protections extend to prospective employees as well.

It also prohibits basing any of those negative employment actions on a pending lawsuit, judgment, or alleged contractual debt owed by an employee. Having garnishments, executions, or debt claims cannot be used as an excuse to take adverse employment actions.

Examples of Prohibited Debtor Discrimination:

  • Firing an employee after receiving garnishment orders against their wages
  • Refusing to hire a job applicant who has outstanding judgments pending
  • Disciplining an employee by denying promotions because of garnished wages
  • Laying off an employee while retaining others due to pending debt litigation

What Damages Can I Recover?

If your employer breaks this law, you may file a civil lawsuit within 90 days of the discriminatory action. Available remedies can include compensation for lost wages of up to 6 weeks' pay and potential reinstatement to your job if you were fired illegally.

How Can I Prove Discrimination?

Circumstantial evidence like suspicious timing of the adverse action close to the employer's knowledge of garnishments can help establish an illegal motive. Ultimately, the burden is on the employee to show actions taken by the employer were substantially motivated by garnishment knowledge rather than other permissible factors.

The law applies to all private and government employers in New York, with no known major exceptions. 

New York Law Prohibits Job Discrimination Based on Wage Garnishments

Aptly titled, "Discrimination against employees and prospective employees based upon wage assignment or income execution," New York CPLR § 5252 sets forth in relevant part:

"No employer shall discharge, lay off, refuse to promote, or discipline an employee, or refuse to hire a prospective employee, because one or more wage assignments or income executions have been served upon such employer or a former employer against the employee's or prospective employee's wages or because of the pendency of any action or judgment against such employee or prospective employee for nonpayment of any alleged contractual obligation."

This statute further provides a civil, private right of action for damages not to exceed 6 weeks of lost wages with potential reinstatement of your job. Or, if you were not hired because of the garnishment(s), the court could force your employer to hire you.

You only have 90 days from the violation to bring such a case, so contact us immediately to discuss your matter!

Intake Form for New Clients. Share Case Details. The Langel Firm, NYC Debt Defense Law

Here is a list of New York City’s Marshals who enforce wage garnishments: