No Garnishing Wages Without Court Order

Losing your keys is a pain, but losing the boss’s keys and having your pay docked $1,200, well, that’s just cruel.

That’s what happened to a school teacher in Bellflower.  On Tuesday, a state Court of Appeal ruled the district could not garnish her wages for the cost of rekeying school rooms for the lost keys.

Although teacher Karl Meeks signed a form saying he could be charged for lost keys, the Second District Court of Appeals held that it violated the wage garnishment law, which forbids any employer from resorting to extra-judicial wage seizures to recover a debt.

Meeks lost the Bellflower district keys and the locks had to be changed on eight classrooms and other facilities at $150 per room, costing the district $1,200.

The district deducted $1,200 from his paycheck but did not obtain a court judgment against Meeks.

Meeks filed a claim with the Labor Commissioner seeking reimbursement and the commissioner ordered Meeks be repaid in full.  The district appealed.

The appeals court upheld the labor commission’s ruling in an unpublished ruling that does not set precedent for other similar cases.

Case:  Bellflower Unified School District v. Meeks, B259780


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