Attempt to Interfere with Employment is Domestic Violence in NJ

In the June 30, 2016 decision in C.G. v. E.G., the Honorable Lawrence Jones of the Superior Court of New Jersey found that Domestic Violence extends to acts of economic duress and harassment.

The Judge articulated certain methods to accomplish coercion and economic harassment, but made clear this was not an all inclusive list:

  • Direct threat to contact a party’s place of employment and trying to get him or her fired by:
    • Making false allegations
    • Publicizing personal, private and humiliating information about the party
  • Contacting the party’s workplace and taking action intended to damage the job stability or employment status of the victim
  • Appearing uninvited, on a repeated basis, at the party’s workplace, initiating a disruption, or acting in a disrespectful and/or embarrassing manner toward the victim, disrupting the victim’s responsibilities of employment, performance or any standard business processes

In C.G. v. E.G., the defendant called the victim’s workplace without her consent in order to bother not just her employer, but the employer’s wife, alleging the victim and employer were having an affair. Obviously, these allegations were found to embarrass the victim and was surely intended to put her employment at risk. In addition, the defendant sent threatening text messages to the victim expressing his intent to harm her by calling her employment against her express wishes.

Here, the relevant portions of the harassment statute would be both the provision making it an act of harassment to engage in a sequence of alarming behavior or recurrently committing acts with the intent of alarming or seriously annoying the victim; and the provision for the making of, or causing to be made, communication in any other way likely to cause alarm or irritation.

As to efforts to interfere with employment as coercion, the statute provides that coercion is committed by the person efforts to control the other party by threatening to expose any secret tending to subject him or her to hatred, disdain or mockery, to impair business repute or credit. The court found Defendant guilty of both harassment and coercion. The coercion also included another provision of the criminal statute: that the offender had threatened to or did perform any act that would not benefit the defendant, but that is intended to harm another as to “health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.”

Judge Jones made the very clear showing in the decision that domestic violence was in no way restricted to physical abuse and are absolutely inclusive of efforts to control the party through financial abuse, either on its own or in addition to physical harm.

Worthy of note is an earlier New Jersey Supreme Court case, State v. Hoffman, that, in 1997, set the stage for Judge Jones’ decision here. Hoffman, 149 N.J.564 at 585, acknowledged a person’s right to be not to be interfered with, by a past or estranged spouse or dating companion, at the person’s place of employment. It is, in part, the breach of this right to be left alone that is breached in these acts of harassment and coercion adjudged as domestic violence by Judge Jones in his C.G. v. E.G decision.

If you need to discuss harassment or coercion involving employment, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a free consultation at 201-845-7400.

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