II. Title VII Claims
Defendants next contend that plaintiff's claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq., are limited to events subsequent to May 3, 1983. In support of this argument plaintiff notes that charges of employment discrimination under Title VII must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the allegedly unlawful practice, or, if proceedings were initially instituted before an authorized state agency, within 300 days of the allegedly unlawful practice (or within 30 days of receiving notice that the state agency has terminated the proceedings, whichever is earlier). 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(e). Failure to file within the applicable period bars the claim. EEOC v. Commercial Office Products Co., 486 U.S. 107, 108 S. Ct. 1666, 1674, 100 L. Ed. 2d 96 (1988); Masco v. United Airlines, 574 F.2d 1127, 1128-29 (3d Cir. 1978).
Plaintiff filed her charges with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights on February 10, 1984, and filed charges with the EEOC shortly thereafter, on February 28, 1984. Defendants concede that plaintiff has complied with the Title VII prerequisites, but argue that all alleged acts of discrimination predating May 3, 1983 (300 days before February 28, 1984) are time barred and should not be considered in support of plaintiff's claim. In response, plaintiff seeks to bring those earlier acts within the umbrella of the "continuing violation" exception to the strict time requirements of Title VII. See United Air Lines, Inc. v. Evans, 431 U.S. 553, 558, 97 S. Ct. 1885, 1889, 52 L. Ed. 2d 571 (1977). Under this exception, plaintiff must show "'a series of related acts, one or more of which falls within the limitations period, or the maintenance of a discriminatory system both before and during the [limitations] period.'" Valentino v. United States Postal Service, 218 U.S. App. D.C. 213, 674 F.2d 56, 65 (D.C. Cir. 1982) (quoting B. Schlei & P. Grossman, Employment Discrimination Law 232 (Supp. 1979)); see also Olson v. Rembrandt Printing Co., 511 F.2d 1228, 1233-34 (8th Cir. 1975). Plaintiff's claim rests solidly within the "continuing violation" exception because she is alleging acts of discrimination both before and after May 3, 1983, all of which constitute an alleged continuum of discrimination leading to her discharge. Cf. Valentino, 674 F.2d at 65-66; Olson, 511 F.2d at 1234. As the Olson court noted, "for . . . a former employee the date of discharge or resignation is the controlling date under the statute, and a charge of employment discrimination must be timely filed in relation to that date." 511 F.2d at 1234. However, at the time she filed her administrative petitions, plaintiff was still a current employee of JJP. The continuing discrimination theory has particular validity with respect to present employees. Id. (citing Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424, 429-30, 91 S. Ct. 849, 853, 28 L. Ed. 2d 158 (1971)). Moreover, at the time of her discharge a present violation allegedly existed, so the Supreme Court's narrow interpretation of the continuing violation exception in United Air Lines, see 431 U.S. at 558, 97 S. Ct. at 1889, does not defeat the applicability of the exception to plaintiff's case. In other words, plaintiff has met her obligation of coming forth with "allegations connecting [the] remote claims to the ones for which timely complaints were filed." Milton v. Weinberger, 207 U.S. App. D.C. 145, 645 F.2d 1070, 1077 (D.C. Cir. 1981); see also Mucci v. Moonachie Board of Education, 37 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 65, 66 (D.N.J.), modified on other grounds, 37 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. (BNA) 1284 (D.N.J. 1985). Of course, the Court's ruling that the statute of limitations does not bar plaintiff's claim applies only to the complaint itself; based on the evidence offered at trial, the Court will have to decide whether plaintiff has satisfied the "continuing violation" exception. Accordingly, the Court will allow defendants' partial statute-of-limitations defense with respect to the Title VII claims to remain.
III. NJLAD Claims
Finally, defendants contend that plaintiff's claims under the NJLAD are partially time barred to the same extent that defendants argued with respect to the § 1981 claims. The NJLAD does not specify a statute of limitations, so the Court must select from among the general statutes of limitations enacted in New Jersey. N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-1 establishes a six-year limitations period for tortious injury to the property or rights of another; N.J.S.A. § 2A:14-2 provides for a two-year limitations period for tortious injury to the person of another. The New Jersey Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the appropriate statute of limitations in an action under the NJLAD. See Skadegaard v. Farrell, 578 F. Supp. 1209, 1213 (D.N.J. 1984). "'In the absence of an authoritative pronouncement from the state's highest court, the task of a federal court is to predict how that court would rule.'" Blum v. Witco Chemical Corp., 829 F.2d 367, 376 (3d Cir. 1987) (quoting Pennsylvania Glass Sand Corp. v. Caterpillar Tractor Co., 652 F.2d 1165, 1167 (3d Cir. 1981)).
The only New Jersey state case cited by the parties that has addressed the issue is Leese v. Doe, 182 N.J. Super. 318, 321, 440 A.2d 1166, 1168 (Law Div. 1981), which ruled that the six-year statute pertaining to claims for injury to property governs NJLAD claims. A federal district court may give serious consideration to the opinion of an intermediate appellate court in the absence of a decision by the state's highest court. Aetna v. Farrell, 855 F.2d 146, 148-49 (3d Cir. 1988). Indeed, such an opinion may be deemed to be presumptive evidence of state law. Commercial Union Insurance Co. v. Bituminous Casualty Corp., 851 F.2d 98, 100 (3d Cir. 1988). No such presumption applies to state trial court opinions. Of course, the Court may take such opinions into consideration, especially where, as here, two other judges of this Court have followed the Leese decision. See Mucci, 37 Fair Empl. Prac. Cas. at 68 (Fisher, C.J.); Skadegaard, 578 F. Supp. at 1213-14 (Ackerman, J.).
Importantly, however, both Leese and one of the federal cases following it based their holdings on the Third Circuit case that was overruled by Goodman in the § 1981 context, namely, Davis v. United States Steel Supply, 581 F.2d 335 (3d Cir. 1978). See Leese, 182 N.J. Super. at 320-21, 440 A.2d at 1167-68; Skadegaard, 578 F. Supp. at 1214.
The Davis court had held that if a § 1981 claim is to be analogized to a tort action, it should be analogized to torts involving the wrongful interference with another's economic rights or interests. 581 F.2d at 339. The Supreme Court in Goodman rejected this reasoning, and held:
Insofar as [§ 1981] deals with contracts, it declares the personal right to make and enforce contracts, a right, as the section has been construed, that may not be interfered with on racial grounds. The provision asserts, in effect, that competence and capacity to contract shall not depend upon race. It is thus part of a federal law barring racial discrimination, which . . . is a fundamental injury to the individual rights of a person. . . . That § 1981 has far-reaching economic consequences does not change this conclusion, since such impact flows from guaranteeing the personal right to engage in economically significant activity free from racially discriminatory interference. The Court of Appeals was correct in selecting the . . . limitations period governing personal injury actions.