United States District Court, D. New Jersey
MCNULTY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on the motion (DE 5) of the
defendants, Just Greens, LLC d/b/a Aerofarms
("Aerofarms") and David Rosenberg, to dismiss the
complaint for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff Ada Vanessa
Bradley, who was employed at Aerofarms, asserts claims under
New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et
seq. ("NJLAD"). Specifically, Bradley alleges that
she was treated disparately by Aerofarms and Rosenberg
because of her race and gender, culminating in her
termination from the company.
reasons explained below, Defendants' motion to dismiss is
Aerofarms operates an indoor vertical agricultural business
in Newark, New Jersey. (Compl. ¶6). Defendant David
Rosenberg is the Chief Executive Officer and Owner of
Aerofarms. Defendant Rosenberg is a white male, a fact
relevant to the allegations. (Compl. ¶3). From May 2017
until June 2018, plaintiff Bradley was employed at Aerofarms.
(Compl. ¶¶38-39). Bradley is an African American
female. (Compl. ¶11). Bradley had significant experience
in the agricultural industry before she was hired to work as
a Farm Manager for Aerofarms. Although objectively qualified
for the position of Farm Manager, she was required to undergo
a grueling hiring process, including 23 interviews, before
she was offered the job. (Compl. ¶¶14, 15)- Bradley
claims that no other prospective employee, including her
replacement, who is a white male, was subjected to such an
onerous interview process. (Compl. ¶17).
alleges that while employed at Aerofarms, she was treated
disparately as compared to white male employees,
notwithstanding the fact that she carried out her
responsibilities in an exemplary manner. (Compl. ¶¶
19-20). For example, Bradley assumed the responsibilities of
a Safety Manager, which is a separate, full time position at
the company, in addition to her Farm Manager
responsibilities. (Compl. ¶¶18-22). In carrying out
the responsibilities of a Safety Manager, plaintiff improved
company safety statistics, which in turn enhanced
Aerofarms' business operations and profits. (Compl.
¶¶21-22). She was also responsible for strategy
planning, as well as safety and regulatory compliance.
her positive performance, Bradley was excluded from
management level meetings concerning her job responsibilities
in favor of white, male employees. (Compl. ¶23) Bradley
also alleges that her recommendations or decisions were
ignored by Defendants until they were co-opted by other
white, male colleagues. (Compl. ¶¶ 23-25). Bradley
claims that other women at Aerofarms were treated in a
similar manner. (Compl. ¶26).
Bradley alleges that she was compensated less than her white,
male colleagues, due to her gender and race. Bradley contends
that when white, male colleagues tried to leave the company,
they were offered better terms of employment, such as salary
and stock option increases, to convince them to stay. (Compl.
¶¶30-33). This contrasted with Aerofarms'
treatment of women who planned to leave the company. (Compl.
¶34). Plaintiff alleges she knows of "at least six
. . . female employees" who left Aerofarms and were not
offered any compensation or stock option increases to
convince them to stay. (Compl. ¶34). Moreover, when
Bradley requested for a small salary increase for taking on
additional responsibilities as Safety Manager, she was
rejected and told that she had not yet "prove[n]"
herself to Rosenberg. (Compl. ¶¶30-31).
asserts that on she was wrongfully terminated from Aerofarms
was replaced on June 18, 2018, by a white, male candidate.
Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a) does not require that a
complaint contain detailed factual allegations. Nevertheless,
"a plaintiffs obligation to provide the
'grounds' of his 'entitlement to relief requires
more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation
of the elements of a cause of action will not do."
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007); see Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny, 515 F.3d
224, 232 (3d Cir. 2008) (Rule 8 "requires a
'showing' rather than a blanket assertion of an
entitlement to relief." (citation omitted)). Thus, the
complaint's factual allegations must be sufficient to
raise a plaintiffs right to relief above a speculative level,
so that a claim is "plausible on its face."
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see also West Run
Student Hous. Assocs., LLC v. Huntington Nat. Bank, 712
F.3d 165, 169 (3d Cir. 2013).
facial-plausibility standard is met "when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the
misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at
556). While "[t]he plausibility standard is not akin to
a 'probability requirement'... it asks for more than
a sheer possibility." Id.
12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint if it
fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The
defendant, as the moving party, bears the burden of showing
that no claim has been stated. Animal Science Products,
Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., 654 F.3d 462, 469 n.9 (3d
Cir. 2011). For the purposes of a motion to dismiss, the
facts alleged in the complaint are accepted as true and all
reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the plaintiff.
New Jersey Carpenters & the Trustees Thereof v.
Tishman Const Corp. of New Jersey, 760 F.3d 297, 302 (3d
deciding a motion to dismiss, a court typically does not
consider matters outside the pleadings. However, a court may
consider documents that are "integral to or explicitly
relied upon in the complaint" or any "undisputedly
authentic document that a defendant attaches as an exhibit to
a motion to dismiss if the plaintiffs claims are based on the
document[.]" In re Rockefeller Ctr. Props., Inc.
Sec. Litig., 184 F.3d 280, 287 (3d Cir. 1999) (emphasis
and citations omitted); see In re Asbestos Prods. Liab.
Litig. (No. VI), 822 F.3d 125, 133 n.7 (3d Cir. 2016);
Schmidt v. Skolas, 770 F.3d 241, 249 (3d Cir.
three counts of the complaint all arise under the New Jersey
Law against Discrimination (NJLAD). This Court' subject
matter jurisdiction is founded on diversity of citizenship.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Notice of Removal and
Memorandum of Law (DE 1); Order denying motion to remand (DE
Count One: Disparate Treatment Under the NJLAD
One of the Complaint alleges that defendant Aerofarms treated
Bradley in a disparate manner because of her gender and race,
in violation of the NJLAD. "There is no single prima
facie case that applies to all employment discrimination
claims. Instead, the elements of the prima facie case vary
depending upon the particular cause of action."
Kirschling v. Atl. City Bd. of Educ, 10 F.Supp.3d
587, 594 (D.N.J. 2014), affd,604 Fed.Appx. 153 (3d
Cir. 2015). The NJLAD borrows the federal Title VII ...