If I work a minimum wage job, are my wages exempt from garnishement?

Any exemptions? My bank account was frozen by a creditor. The account was frozen on my payday. I know for a fact the only money in my account was my paycheck. My bank was sent a letter yesterday to freeze my account. I was paid by direct deposit at midnight.

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Yes, if you only make the federal minimum wage, then your wages are effectively exempt from garnishment, unless your regularly work overtime (thus, earning more than a minimum wage employee normally would).

2) However, once the money is in your bank account, it doesn't matter where the money came from--it can be levied upon or garnished. Garnishing wages means your employer sends part of your wages directly to the creditor; but if the money first goes into your bank account and is taken out from there, that is not garnishing your "wages". That mean seem unfair and a very thin distinction, but it's the law.

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