United States District Court, D. New Jersey
WILLIAM J. MARTINI, U.S.D.J.
employment discrimination action, this matter comes before
the Court on Morgan Advanced Materials, PLC; Morgan Advanced
Ceramics, Inc., a/k/a Morgan Technical Ceramics; and Gerard
T. McConvery's (together, “Defendants”)
Motion to Dismiss Counts I and II of Plaintiff's Second
Amended Complaint. The Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1332(a), and 1367(c), and decides the
matter without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b). For the
reasons set forth below, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is
about June 24, 2013, until her termination on April 5, 2018,
Plaintiff Darla Perrotto worked “in the capacity of
Controller/Human Resources” at Morgan Advanced
Materials, PLC and Morgan Advanced Ceramics, Inc.'s
(“Morgan”) Fairfield, New Jersey, office. Notice
of Removal, Ex. B, Second Am. Compl. ¶ 10, ECF No. 1-2
(“SAC”). On April 24, 2018, New Jersey's
governor signed into law the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act
(“NJEPA”) which amended the New Jersey Law
Against Discrimination (“LAD”) to require pay
equality across all protected classes. N.J. Stat. Ann.
§§ 34:11-56:13. While enacted on April 24, 2018,
NJEPA took effect on July 1, 2018. 2018 N.J. Sess. Law Serv.
Ch. 9 (West) (“This act shall take effect on July 1,
terminated Plaintiff's employment before NJEPA became
law. SAC ¶¶ 10, 151-54. On July 27, 2018, Plaintiff
filed suit in state court alleging employment (gender)
discrimination and retaliation against Defendants and other
fictitious parties. Defendants timely removed. Defendants now
seek to dismiss NJEPA gender pay disparity and retaliation
claims (Counts I and II) under FRCP 12(b)(6), ECF No. 5
(“Defs.' Br.”), Plaintiff opposed, ECF No. 9
(“Pl.'s Opp'n”), and Defendants replied,
ECF No. 10.
12(b)(6) provides for dismissal of a complaint if the
plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. The movant bears the burden of showing that no claim
has been stated. Hedges v. United States, 404 F.3d
744, 750 (3d Cir. 2005). “[A]ll allegations in the
complaint must be accepted as true, and the plaintiff must be
given the benefit of every favorable inference to be drawn
therefrom.” Malleus v. George, 641 F.3d 560,
563 (3d Cir. 2011). But the court cannot accept as true
“legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
alleges Defendants engaged in gender-based discrimination and
retaliatory compensation practices under NJEPA. SAC
¶¶ 167-76 (Counts I and II). Specifically, while
employed from June 24, 2013, to April 5, 2018, Defendants
“pa[id] a rate of compensation, including benefits, to
male employees which is [more] than the rate paid to female
employees for substantially similar work, ”
id. ¶ 168,  and retaliated against her for engaging
in NJEPA protected activities, id. ¶ 174.
Plaintiff's complained-of conduct occurred prior to
NJEPA's effective date of July 1, 2018. Id.
¶ 165. Thus, the question here is whether the statute
should apply retroactively to Plaintiff's NJEPA claims.
contends the Legislature intended NJEPA to operate
retroactively and such application would neither impair a
party's constitutional rights nor cause manifest
injustice. Pl.'s Opp'n at 15-30. Unsurprisingly,
Defendants respond there is no basis to indicate
retroactivity. First, there lacks express or implied
legislative intent. Second, NJEPA is not curative,
since it represents an entirely new statutory scheme
affording pay equality protections for protected classes such
as gender. Third, the parties' expectations fail
to warrant retroactive application. Defs.' Br. at 5-9.
The Court agrees with Defendants. allege
The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act is Not Retroactively
Applicable to Conduct Occurring Prior to its Effective
rules of statutory construction favor prospective rather than
retroactive application of new legislation.” James
v. N.J. Mfrs. Ins. Co., 83 A.3d 70, 77 (N.J. 2014)
(citations omitted). The traditional prospective preference
rests on “long-held notions of fairness and due
process.” Id. (quotations marks and citation
omitted). A party overcomes the strong presumption against
retroactivity through showing (1) the Legislature intended
the statute to apply retroactively and (2) that such
application would neither unconstitutionally hinder a
party's vested rights or cause manifest injustice.
Johnson v. Roselle EZ Quick LLC, 143 A.3d 254 (N.J.
2016) (citations omitted). There are three circumstances that
support applying a statute retroactively: ‘“(1)
when the Legislature expresses its intent that the law apply
retroactively, either expressly or implicitly; (2) when an
amendment is curative; or (3) when the expectations of the
parties so warrant.”' Id. (quoting
James, 83 A.3d at 77). The Court finds no exception
There Lacks an Express or Implied Indication the Legislature
Intended the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act be Applied
Court need only look to the statute's plain language to
discern legislative intent here. The Legislature passed NJEPA
on April 25, 2018, but it specifically postponed the
effective date until July 1, 2018. This delayed enactment
shows the Legislature intended NJEPA to have prospective
application only. See Twiss v. State,591 A.2d 913,
916 (N.J. 1991) (postponing a statute's effective date
indicates prospective legislative intent only);
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