Vagrant Economy, Dodging Garnishments

I have zero desire to comment on Tawana Brawley, but this article raised an issue at the end that has always been interesting to me.  After literally decades of court action, Brawley finally had a garnishment order enforced on her paycheck to start making good on a defamation suit by the man she victimized with her false rape allegations  (Which in fact demonstrates another point I have made before -- you can win a judgement in court but that can often be less than half the battle.  It can be harder to get the judgement actually paid).

Anyway, apparently as soon as the garnishment order was applied by her employer, she quit the job without a forwarding address (the headline says "loses her job" as if she was fired but the text seems to say she quit, presumably to dodge the garnishment).  This happens in my business all the time.  On our 400+ employees, we probably get 5-10 new garnishment orders a year, often tax liens or child support payments.  These take a while to catch up with people, so while the orders may be years old, the employees might work for me 3-6 months before the order shows up in our office to enforce.  (For those who don't know, each state typically requires some sort of new employee notification by our business to the state, so they can run the employee's name and social security number against various data bases to generate these orders).

Once the first garnishment hits their paycheck, at least 80% quit immediately, moving on like Brawley to get another 6 months of work somewhere else before the garnishment presumably catches up to  them again.  I have no idea how large this group of job vagrants is that are constantly moving to dodge garnishments, but from our sample it is pretty large.


  1. Sam L.:

    I did payroll for some stores in the early '90s, and only had one garnishee. He did not quit.

  2. Noumenon72:

    If people are getting easier to track down, perhaps this is causing decreased labor mobility, just because you can't hide by getting a new job.

  3. irandom419:

    I wish they could go after her tax refund.

  4. Dale:

    Why is it up to the employer to accommodate
    this? From the employers point of view
    this is a privet matter that has nothing to do with him.

  5. Ron H.:

    why do you think she gets a refund?

  6. Craig L:

    I bet the government checks and voter registration cards have a lot easier time finding these people.

  7. DanSmith:

    So where is Al Sharpton, now that she really needs him? Maybe he could give her 1% of his shakedowns--I mean, NBC income.

  8. F.E. Guerra-Pujol (Enrique):

    If most actors are "rational" (in the economic sense), why is this form of strategic behavior or "gaming" behavior so surprising to anyone?

  9. Robert Ottinger:

    It goes both ways as companies can be deadbeats as well. We recently sued a company for religious discrimination in NYC and won a verdict with legal fees worth approximately $750,000. The company refused to pay a penny and when we moved to enforce the judgment they filed bankruptcy. Turns out they owed the IRS a few hundred thousand as well. They don't pay their debts but the owners have new luxury cars.