One of the best protections a person gets from filing for bankruptcy is the automatic stay — debt collection actions, foreclosures, judgment recovery actions, etc. will get temporarily stayed (paused) giving a debtor valuable breathing room to reorganize his or her financial affairs. Courts take violations of the automatic stay very seriously, as one bankruptcy court in the Northern District of California recently demonstrated. The bankruptcy court awarded a woman $15,000 for pain and suffering when a debt collector violated the automatic stay by pursuing a wage garnishment order. The debt collector knew about the bankruptcy filing but still continued to press the woman’s employer to comply with a wage garnishment procedure. “Given the financial distress and emotional and physical pain caused by [the debt collector’s] discharge violation, $15,000 is an appropriate amount. Even though the initial shock was caused before the contemptible action, the [debtor’s] physical and emotional pain and financial distress continued past the May 23rd date and at least until the garnished wages were returned in late June 2016.