31 U.S.C. § 3720D : US Code - Section 3720D: Garnishment

Search 31 U.S.C. § 3720D : US Code - Section 3720D: Garnishment

      (a) Notwithstanding any provision of State law, the head of an
    executive, judicial, or legislative agency that administers a
    program that gives rise to a delinquent nontax debt owed to the
    United States by an individual may in accordance with this section
    garnish the disposable pay of the individual to collect the amount
    owed, if the individual is not currently making required repayment
    in accordance with any agreement between the agency head and the
    individual.
      (b) In carrying out any garnishment of disposable pay of an
    individual under subsection (a), the head of an executive,
    judicial, or legislative agency shall comply with the following
    requirements:
        (1) The amount deducted under this section for any pay period
      may not exceed 15 percent of disposable pay, except that a
      greater percentage may be deducted with the written consent of
      the individual.
        (2) The individual shall be provided written notice, sent by
      mail to the individual's last known address, a minimum of 30 days
      prior to the initiation of proceedings, from the head of the
      executive, judicial, or legislative agency, informing the
      individual of - 
          (A) the nature and amount of the debt to be collected;
          (B) the intention of the agency to initiate proceedings to
        collect the debt through deductions from pay; and
          (C) an explanation of the rights of the individual under this
        section.

        (3) The individual shall be provided an opportunity to inspect
      and copy records relating to the debt.
        (4) The individual shall be provided an opportunity to enter
      into a written agreement with the executive, judicial, or
      legislative agency, under terms agreeable to the head of the
      agency, to establish a schedule for repayment of the debt.
        (5) The individual shall be provided an opportunity for a
      hearing in accordance with subsection (c) on the determination of
      the head of the executive, judicial, or legislative agency
      concerning - 
          (A) the existence or the amount of the debt, and
          (B) in the case of an individual whose repayment schedule is
        established other than by a written agreement pursuant to
        paragraph (4), the terms of the repayment schedule.

        (6) If the individual has been reemployed within 12 months
      after having been involuntarily separated from employment, no
      amount may be deducted from the disposable pay of the individual
      until the individual has been reemployed continuously for at
      least 12 months.

      (c)(1) A hearing under subsection (b)(5) shall be provided prior
    to issuance of a garnishment order if the individual, on or before
    the 15th day following the mailing of the notice described in
    subsection (b)(2), and in accordance with such procedures as the
    head of the executive, judicial, or legislative agency may
    prescribe, files a petition requesting such a hearing.
      (2) If the individual does not file a petition requesting a
    hearing prior to such date, the head of the agency shall provide
    the individual a hearing under subsection (a)(5) (!1) upon request,
    but such hearing need not be provided prior to issuance of a
    garnishment order.

      (3) The hearing official shall issue a final decision at the
    earliest practicable date, but not later than 60 days after the
    filing of the petition requesting the hearing.
      (d) The notice to the employer of the withholding order shall
    contain only such information as may be necessary for the employer
    to comply with the withholding order.
      (e)(1) An employer may not discharge from employment, refuse to
    employ, or take disciplinary action against an individual subject
    to wage withholding in accordance with this section by reason of
    the fact that the individual's wages have been subject to
    garnishment under this section, and such individual may sue in a
    State or Federal court of competent jurisdiction any employer who
    takes such action.
      (2) The court shall award attorneys' fees to a prevailing
    employee and, in its discretion, may order reinstatement of the
    individual, award punitive damages and back pay to the employee, or
    order such other remedy as may be reasonably necessary.
      (f)(1) The employer of an individual - 
        (A) shall pay to the head of an executive, judicial, or
      legislative agency as directed in a withholding order issued in
      an action under this section with respect to the individual, and
        (B) shall be liable for any amount that the employer fails to
      withhold from wages due an employee following receipt by such
      employer of notice of the withholding order, plus attorneys'
      fees, costs, and, in the court's discretion, punitive damages.

      (2)(A) The head of an executive, judicial, or legislative agency
    may sue an employer in a State or Federal court of competent
    jurisdiction to recover amounts for which the employer is liable
    under paragraph (1)(B).
      (B) A suit under this paragraph may not be filed before the
    termination of the collection action, unless earlier filing is
    necessary to avoid expiration of any applicable statute of
    limitations period.
      (3) Notwithstanding paragraphs (1) and (2), an employer shall not
    be required to vary its normal pay and disbursement cycles in order
    to comply with this subsection.
      (g) For the purpose of this section, the term "disposable pay"
    means that part of the compensation of any individual from an
    employer remaining after the deduction of any amounts required by
    any other law to be withheld.
      (h) The Secretary of the Treasury shall issue regulations to
    implement this section.