When a relationship breaks down, tensions and emotions are high, and any instance of anger or frustration can be escalated to levels beyond sniping or arguments. It’s not always easy to communicate or interact in the middle of a divorce or separation and couples in these situations may find themselves facing allegations of domestic violence or abuse from a bitter ex (or soon-to-be) ex-partner.
Although most people do not automatically link domestic violence and abuse with economic abuse, studies show that these two things are often linked and that people who have been accused of domestic violence are often accused of threatening their victims’ financial stability as well. In fact, recent court cases have addressed the issue of employment interference as a form of domestic abuse with respect to one’s partner or ex-partner.
In the unpublished June 30, 2016 decision of C.G. v. E.G., an Ocean County judge confirmed that domestic violence doesn’t just involve physical abuse — it can be extended to include harassment at an economic level. In the case in question, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant had sent threatening text messages and called her workplace without her consent. The calls were directed to her employer and her employer’s wife, and the defendant allegedly told them that the plaintiff was having an affair with her employer.
In the ruling, the judge defined economic harassment as a form of domestic violence. To qualify, the harassment must include “purposeful acts which a defendant perpetrates while intending that such acts either (a) impair or obstruct a plaintiff’s actual or prospective job or job-related duties, or (b) threaten to do so with the purpose of controlling [the plaintiff], and/or pressuring or intimidating [the plaintiff] into submitting to demands or wishes.”
What Constitutes Economic Harassment?
Based on the judge’s ruling in this case, any attempts below can be considered economic harassment, and can be charged and handled as domestic violence:
- Making direct threats to call the victim’s workplace with the intention of having the victim fired. This can include making false accusations against the victim or making public private and personal information.
- Contacting the victim’s workplace and taking any actions that are intended to hurt the victim’s professional standing and career.
- Appearing at the victim’s workplace repeatedly and without invitation, causing disturbances, or otherwise embarrassing the victim or disrupting job tasks and performances.
According to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s ruling, a person has “a basic right to be left alone by an estranged or former spouse or dating partner at his or her place of employment.” Because of this, any stalking or harassment at work can fall under the state’s Domestic Violence Act. In 2015, the Act was amended by the New Jersey Legislature to include the term “coercion.” In domestic violence cases, coercion refers to any “threats made to unlawfully restrict another’s freedom of action to engage or refrain from engaging in conduct” and includes a list of threatening behaviors that are prohibited by law.
For more information on domestic violence laws in New Jersey, including employment interference, contact Scott Gorman, a knowledgeable Essex County domestic violence attorney with The Gorman Law Firm.
Published in Categories: Domestic Violence