Showing posts with label court of appeals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label court of appeals. Show all posts

Friday, September 11, 2015

Federal judge rules against procedures used in Georgia's garnishment law

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that a federal judge ruled that procedures set forth in Georgia’s garnishment law are unconstitutional.



According to the newspaper, the judge ruled that the law is flawed because it doesn’t require creditors to tell debtors that some money — like Social Security benefits, welfare payments and workers’ compensation — is off limits to garnishments. 

When that money is wrongly taken, the law doesn’t require creditors to tell people how to get it back, and it doesn’t provide a timely procedure for determining whether funds should have been exempt, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marvin H. Shoob wrote.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by Tony Strickland after creditors seized his Social Security disability income and his workers’ compensation settlement. He filed his original lawsuit, which was dismissed by a court. He then filed an appeal of that dismissal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which overturned the lower court dismissal allowing for the trial to go forward.  

While the judgment applies only to Gwinnett County, it will likely to affect courts statewide.

Richard Alexander, Gwinnett’s clerk of courts, was named in the suit. Alexander said he will follow the ruling, but does not know what the rest of the state might do.

“Here, we’ve stopped,” he said. “We won’t be sending any more summons. We won’t disburse funds. We’re going to follow the court’s order.”

A spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, which argued in favor of the existing law, said officials are still reviewing the decision and had no comment.

Richard Howe, managing partner of the collection firm Howe & Associates, said he does not think the ruling will stick if the state or Gwinnett decides to appeal. Appellate courts have upheld the existing garnishment law in the past, he said.


A garnishment occurs when a creditor claims that someone has not paid a debt. To collect the money, the creditor can file a lawsuit. If the debtor doesn’t reply within 30 days, an automatic judgment is issued, and wages or assets can be seized.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Georgia loses court decision on overtime and minimum wage protection for home care workers

The Associated Press is reporting that a federal appeals court on Friday ruled in favor of Obama administration regulations that guarantee overtime and minimum wage protection to nearly 2 million home care workers.

Nine states, including Georgia, had opposed the rules. Samuel Olens, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the State of Georgia, had filed a brief arguing that the changes would increase state Medicaid costs and expose states to an unfunded liability.

The ruling was a victory for worker advocacy groups, labor unions, and the White House. The Labor Department had proposed the regulations after the Obama White House had been unable to persuade Congress to change the law that exempts home care workers from full coverage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The Labor Department issued a statement saying “Today's decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is vital to nearly two million home care workers, who will now qualify for minimum wage and overtime protections. The decision confirms this rule is legally sound. And just as important, the rule is the right thing to do — both for employees, whose demanding work merits these fundamental wage guarantees, and for recipients of services, who deserve a stable and professional workforce allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.”

A unanimous three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed a lower court decision in the case and said the Labor Department has the power to interpret the law to change that exemption.

The AP story cites Judge Sri Srinivasan as saying that a "dramatic transformation" of the home care industry over the past four decades as a valid reason for the change. While most caregivers used to be directly employed by individual households, the vast majority of workers now work for staffing companies that service hundreds or thousands of customers, Srinivasan said.

He also noted a massive shift to providing care for the elderly in their own homes rather than in nursing homes, which requires workers to offer more advanced medical care and assistance to clients than the mere "companionship" services envisioned in 1974.

Implementation of the regulations will be delayed, as there is a 45-day window to allow the home care associations to seek a rehearing before the full court.

You can read the full decision here.