I have had two different clients during this past month who were anticipating civil suits by two separate U.S. government agencies for their alleged violation of agency regulations. Both clients were W-2 employees, and both clients supported people in their respective families.
Both clients were “head of household” for purposes of Florida’s wage garnishment statutes. Both clients expected that would be exempt from wage garnishment under Florida law.
There is a federal statute which overrides Florida’s wage garnishment statute when the creditor is a U.S. government. The statute says that notwithstanding any provision of a State law, when an individual owes money other than taxes to an executive, judicial or legislative agency that agency may garnish up to 15% of that debtor’s wages. There is an exception when the debtor has been unemployed during the previous year. The statute is Title 31, Subchapter 2, Section 3720D.
In addition, a person who violates U.S. agency regulations is often subject to criminal liability as well as civil money damages. The government has available even stronger measures to collect criminal restitution and fines.