United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MICHAEL PUTNAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
cause is before the court on the motion for summary judgment
filed October 9, 2017, by the defendant, The Resource Group
(“Defendant”). (Doc. 35). The Resource Group
seeks dismissal of all of Helen Rumley-Cunningham's
(“Plaintiff”) claims arising from Defendant's
alleged race discrimination in failing to hire her for a
management position. This matter has been fully briefed, and
the court has considered the evidence and arguments set forth
by both parties. The parties have consented to the exercise
of dispositive jurisdiction by the undersigned magistrate
judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 21).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a), summary judgment is
proper “if the movant shows that there is no genuine
dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The
party asking for summary judgment “always bears the
initial responsibility of informing the district court of the
basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of
‘the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any' which it believes demonstrate the
absence of a genuine issue of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 47 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The movant can meet this
burden by presenting evidence showing there is no dispute of
material fact or by showing that the nonmoving party has
failed to present evidence in support of some element of its
case on which it bears the ultimate burden of proof.
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. There is no
requirement, however, “that the moving party support
its motion with affidavits or other similar materials
negating the opponent's claim.”
Id. at 323.
the moving party has met its burden, Rule 56 “requires
the nonmoving party to go beyond the pleadings and by her own
affidavits, or by the ‘depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate
‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue
for trial.'” Id. at 324 (quoting former
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e)). The nonmoving party need not present
evidence in a form necessary for admission at trial; however,
he may not merely rest on his pleadings. Celotex,
477 U.S. at 324. “[T]he plain language of Rule 56(c)
mandates the entry of summary judgment, after adequate time
for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to
make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an
element essential to that party's case, and on which that
party will bear the burden of proof at trial.”
Id. at 322.
the plaintiff has properly responded to a proper motion for
summary judgment, the court “shall” grant the
motion if there is no genuine issue of material fact, and the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The substantive law will identify which
facts are material and which are irrelevant. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute
is genuine “if the evidence is such that a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.”
Id. at 248. “[T]he judge's function is not
himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Id. at 246. His guide is the same
standard necessary to direct a verdict: “whether the
evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require
submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one
party must prevail as a matter of law.” Id. at
251-52; see also Bill Johnson's Restaurants, Inc. v.
N.L.R.B., 461 U.S. 731, 745 n. 11 (1983).
the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith
Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). The evidence
supporting a claim must be “substantial, ”
Marcus v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 651
F.2d 379 (5th Cir., Unit B, 1981); a mere scintilla of
evidence is not enough to create a genuine issue of fact.
Young v. City of Palm Bay, 358 F.3d 859, 860 (11th
Cir. 2004); Kesinger ex rel. Estate of Kesinger v.
Herrington, 381 F.3d 1243, 1249-50 (11th Cir. 2004). If
the non-movant's evidence is so thoroughly discredited by
the rest of the record evidence that no reasonable
jury could accept it, the evidence fails to establish the
existence of a genuine issue of fact requiring a jury
determination. See Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372,
127 S.Ct. 1769, 1776, 167 L.Ed.2d 686 (2007)
(“Respondent's version of events is so utterly
discredited by the record that no reasonable jury could have
believed him. The Court of Appeals should not have relied on
such visible fiction; it should have reviewed the facts in
the light depicted by the videotape.”); Lewis v.
City of West Palm Beach, Fla., 561 F.3d 1288, 1290 n. 3
(11th Cir. 2009). If the evidence is merely colorable, or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations omitted);
accord Spence v. Zimmerman, 873 F.2d 256 (11th Cir.
1989). Furthermore, the court must “view the evidence
presented through the prism of the substantive evidentiary
burden, ” so there must be sufficient evidence on which
the jury could reasonably find for the plaintiff.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The non-movant need not
be given the benefit of every inference but only of every
reasonable inference. Brown v. City of Clewiston,
848 F.2d 1534, 1540 n. 12 (11th Cir. 1988).
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmovant, in
this case the plaintiff, the following facts are relevant to
the motion for summary judgment.
Resource Group was formed in 2012 and provides services to
health systems, including St. Vincent's Health System
(“St. Vincent's”). Plaintiff is an
African-American female who was employed by St. Vincent's
from 2012 to2016. Plaintiff began her employment with St.
Vincent's as a purchasing agent. It is undisputed that
plaintiff excelled in her capacity as a purchasing agent and
received a very complimentary performance evaluation. On July
10, 2012, plaintiff was evaluated by her supervisor, David
Edwards, who gave her a glowing personnel evaluation.
2012, when The Resource Group began its work with St.
Vincent's, the plaintiff was notified that her position
as a purchasing agent would be phased out. Plaintiff applied
for and received the position of Supply Store Supervisor at
St. Vincent's East in July of 2013. As Supply Store
Supervisor, plaintiff remained an employee of St.
Vincent's, but she was directly supervised by the
Associate Manager over the Warehouse, who was an employee of
The Resource Group. The Associate Manager over the Warehouse
was directly supervised by Beth McMillian, the Manager of
Operations, an employee of The Resource Group. McMillian was
in turn supervised by David Edwards, Area Director for the
Supply Chain for the Southeast, who reported to John Eaker,
Area Vice President and Chief Resource Officer. McMillian,
Edwards, and Eaker all were employees of The Resource Group.
her tenure as Supply Store Supervisor, plaintiff also served
as the Interim Associate Manager over the Warehouse because
of a vacancy in that position. Plaintiff directly reported to
McMillian in this capacity. Both parties agree that the
relationship between plaintiff and McMillian was strained,
and there was frequent conflict. Plaintiff testified that
McMillian constantly raised her voice to her, belittled her
in the presence of her subordinates, and checked behind her.
about January 7, 2014, plaintiff submitted her application
The Resource Group for the permanent position of Associate
Manager over the Warehouse. She had been notified of the job
listing and encouraged to apply by John Eaker. Plaintiff had
a phone interview with a recruiter and a follow-up in- person
interview with Edwards and Eaker on January 17, 2014. During
the application period, plaintiff continued to work as the
Interim Associate Manager. In June of 2014, plaintiff
received an email from David Edwards detailing some areas of
needed improvement. Beth McMillian was copied on the email.
This email instructed the plaintiff to communicate potential
issues to management, attend morning “huddle”
meetings, and to work toward accomplishing performance goals
with a sense of urgency. Plaintiff admittedly did not attend
morning “huddle” meetings on a regular basis.
mid-2014, not having heard anything for six months since her
interview, plaintiff went to speak with Edwards and Eaker
about the status of her application. At that time, plaintiff
was informed that the company was going to hire another
applicant for the Associate Manager over the Warehouse
position. Edwards and Eaker were complimentary of the
plaintiff's work. In November of 2014, a team inspected
the Central Supply Store, where plaintiff was the supervisor,
and gave a satisfactory report. McMillian, Edwards, and Eaker
all offered the plaintiff congratulations in an email chain.
December 23, 2014, plaintiff was evaluated by Beth McMillian.
In the evaluation, she was rated as meeting expectations and
requirements in her capacity as the Central Supply Store
Supervisor. Also in December 2014, Eaker and Edwards visited
the Warehouse. While they were there, plaintiff spoke to
Eaker and Edwards and secretly recorded their conversation.
Plaintiff learned at that time that The Resource Group was in
the final stages of hiring another candidate. The Resource
Group first sought to hire a white male; however, due to
failed salary negotiations, he turned down the job. The
Resource Group then offered the job to Carrie Roberts, a
white female, who accepted the job and began her employment
in April of 2015.
states that Edwards and Eaker were responsible for making the
decision to hire Roberts instead of her. At The Resource
Group, the supervisors tasked with making the hiring decision
would each submit a form to Human Resources stating which
candidate they believed should be awarded the job. Human