By John P. Paone, Jr., Esq. and Cassie Murphy, Esq
Domestic violence is a serious problem in our society. Annually, about 40,000 new domestic violence complaints are filed in New Jersey alone. Many individuals are under the misimpression that domestic violence is only physical abuse. In fact, domestic violence can include non-physical actions that are equally harmful, such as harassment, terroristic threats, and, recently added, coercion.
Recently, a Family Court judge was forced to rule on whether an ex-spouse telephoning the former spouse’s workplace without consent, bothering the employer as well as the employer’s spouse, and falsely alleging that the former spouse and the employer are having an affair, may constitute domestic violence. Considering that most Americans have a sense of security and privacy in their place of work, an uninvited ex-spouse appearing at a workplace or contacting the former spouse’s place of employment for no reason other than to damage the victim’s status or stability at her job may constitute a form of economic harassment. It stands to reason that work for most individuals is a place for solely conducting work-related tasks, and any reasonable person would not appreciate an ex-partner appearing unexpectedly or phoning their jobsite to impose embarrassment.
The Family Court judge made clear that all individuals deserve the right to feel safe at their place of employment and the right to be left alone from any former spouse. Former partners do not have the authority to disturb their ex-spouse’s work environment, but instead are expected to respect that environment. Therefore, the Court found that the defendant’s actions constituted harassment and economic coercion, warranting a Final Restraining Order under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act.
If your former partner has crossed the line by appearing at your jobsite or calling your employer for purposes of jeopardizing your employment, you should explore with your attorney the various options you may have by availing yourself to the protections afforded by the domestic violence statute.
*John P. Paone, Jr., Esq. and Cassie Murphy, Esq. are divorce and family law attorneys with the Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murray, with offices in Red Bank and Woodbridge.
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