New Jersey Farm Company Accused of Racial and Gender Discrimination

A black woman has filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, an indoor vertical farming company, accusing them of subjecting her to poor and unequal treatment on the basis of her gender and race. Ada Vanessa Bradley’s lawsuit against Just Greens, which does business as AeroFarms, was filed under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. She says that the differential treatment she received began when she first applied for her job as a farm manager in May of 2017 and continued through the time that she was fired one year later.

According to her complaint, Ms. Bradley was asked to go through an application process that involved 23 interviews despite her significant experience in the agriculture industry. Her claim indicates that no other job candidate had been subjected to this “grueling” ordeal, and that the disparity between the way she was treated and the way that white male colleagues were treated continued after she was hired. Though she excelled in her job and even took on an additional role as a safety manager, she says she was kept out of management-level meetings attended by white male colleagues and that her suggestions and ideas were ignored unless they were accompanied by explicit support from those same colleagues. She also was paid less than her white male colleagues, and she says that she and other women in the company were not provided the same retention incentives that men were. She was also denied additional compensation for taking on extra work, and told that she would not receive a raise because she had not yet proven herself to the company’s CEO, David Rosenberg. She was eventually fired and replaced with a white man: she is accusing the company of wrongful termination.

After filing her claim, Bradley’s former employer filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that she had not made a strong enough case for the claim to move forward, but U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty denied that motion and said that her allegations were adequate, though he did say that they “could be clearer.” In handing down his decision, Judge McNulty wrote, “I find sufficient the allegations that plaintiff's race and gender were the only explanations for her termination — i.e., that she was terminated because the employer had found a “suitable” Caucasian male replacement, and that the replacement was hired because he was not a member of plaintiff's protected class.”

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination makes disparate treatment based on being a member of a protected class illegal, and the courts have interpreted the requirement for proving disparate treatment as the presentation of evidence that allows a reasonable inference to be made. In Ms. Bradleys’ case, the judge wrote, “Taking plaintiff's allegations as true, as I must, I find that she has sufficiently alleged that defendants treated male, white employees more favorably than they treated her.”

If you believe that you have been discriminated against and treated differently based on your gender, race, age or being a member of any other protected class under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, we can help. Contact us today to discuss your case and learn about your rights.

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