United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION 
G. CORNELIUS, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
plaintiffs, Krishna Reddy, M.D., and Gloria Sellman, M.D.,
commenced this action against the defendant, the State of
Alabama Department of Education, stating counts for sex
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., and a
violation of the Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d).
(Doc. 1). Pending before the undersigned are the parties'
cross-motions for summary judgment and the defendant's
motion to strike portions of the plaintiffs' briefs in
support of their summary judgment motions. For the reasons
discussed below, the plaintiffs' motions for summary
judgment (Docs. 30, 31) are due to be denied, the
defendant's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 24) is due
to be granted, the defendant's motion to strike (Doc. 35)
is due to be denied as moot, and this action is due to be
dismissed with prejudice.
plaintiffs are female Disability Determination Physicians
employed by Disability Determination Services, a division of
the State of Alabama Department of Education. (Doc. 26-1 at
3). Their comparator, Peter Sims, M.D., is a male Disability
Determination Physician employed by the same state agency.
(Id.). The position of Disability Determination
Physician is assigned to Pay Grade 91 in the State's pay
plan. (Doc. 32-2). Pay Grade 91 has eighteen steps.
(Id.). Typically, appointment to the position is at
Step 1. (Doc. 25 at 5 (citing Rule 670-X-8-.02 of the Alabama
Administrative Code)). However, appointment above the minimum
step is possible. (Doc. 26-1 at 2; Doc. 26-2 at 6). Dr. Reddy
received an appointment to the position effective October 1,
2009, at Step 3, earning $122, 232.00 annually. (Doc. 26-1 at
3-4). Dr. Sellman received an appointment to the position
effective September 1, 2010, at the same step, earning the
same annual salary. (Id. at 4). Dr. Sims received an
appointment to the position effective December 16, 2014, at
Step 14, earning $160, 440.00 annually. (Id. at
4-5). On completion of a six-month probationary period
following their respective appointments, Drs. Reddy, Sellman,
and Sims each advanced two steps on the applicable pay grade.
(Doc. 1 at 7; Doc. 26-3 at 15; Doc. 32-10 at 19-22).
Thereafter, they each received a two-step merit raise each
year those raises were not frozen for budgetary reasons.
(Doc. 1 at 7; Doc. 26-1 at 6, 9-71; Doc. 26-2 at 7). Two
steps is the maximum number of steps that may be awarded as a
merit raise. (Doc. 26-1 at 6; Doc. 26-2 at 7). Dr. Sims
“topped out, ” reaching Step 18 of the applicable
pay grade, on June 1, 2016. (Doc. 32-10 at 20). Drs. Reddy
and Sims continue to climb the steps on that pay grade.
Reddy is a board-certified neurologist. (Doc. 32-4 at 4). She
practiced neurology at Birmingham Neurology, P.A. from July
1980 to her retirement in August 2005. (Id. at 3).
During that time, she intermittently performed physical
examinations for Disability Determination Services. (Doc.
32-24 at 3). Between 2007 and 2008, she was employed by the
Association of Retarded Citizens, St. Clair County as a
residential worker caring for three mentally disabled
menand by Pell City Parks and Recreation as an
office worker. (Id. at 2-3). In May 2008, Dr. Reddy
began working as a clinical research coordinator in the
Department of Nephrology at the University of Alabama at
Birmingham. (Doc. 27-2 at 10, 15). Dr. Reddy testified the
position would normally be staffed by a registered nurse.
(Id. at 10). In describing her responsibilities, Dr.
Reddy testified she looked at patient records, talked to
patients, collected lab data and input it into a database,
collected patient specimens, and performed cost studies.
(Id. at 15). Additionally, in the latter half of
2008, Dr. Reddy began examining Veterans for neurological
conditions every other Saturday for the Veterans
Administration. (Id. at 12).
of the application process for the position of Disability
Determination Physician, Dr. Reddy submitted a Form W-2
indicating she earned $77, 908.65 during the last six months
she practiced neurology at Birmingham Neurology, P.A. (Doc.
26-1 at 4; Doc. 27-2 at 10). Dr. Reddy did not submit any
information regarding the pay she received as a clinical
research coordinator or examining Veterans. (Doc. 27-2 at
12). She testified her salary as a clinical research
coordinator was $57, 000.00 annually and that she earned
$230.00 per hour working approximately six hours every other
Saturday for the Veterans Administration. (Doc. 27-2 at
Sellman is a board-certified anesthesiologist. (Doc. 32-30 at
5). From 1986 to 1996, she held concurrent academic
appointments and clinical positions at Georgetown University
School of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of
Medicine, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of
Medicine, and the Children's Hospital of Alabama. (Doc.
32-30 at 6). Between 1998 and 2007, she was employed as the
chief executive officer of VectorLogics, Inc., a
biotechnology company. (Id. at 5). From August 2008
to September 2010, she worked under contract as a medical
consultant for the Department of Disability Services.
(Id.). As part of the application process for the
position of Disability Determination Physician, Dr. Sellman
submitted her medical consultant contract with the Department
of Disability Services. (Doc. 26-1 at 4). That contract
allowed her to earn up to approximately $140, 000.00
annually, although in 2009 and the first eight months of 2010
she only worked enough hours to earn $101, 232.00 and $71,
854.00, respectively. (Doc. 26-1 at 4; Doc. 27-4 at 17; Doc.
32-31 at 3).
Sims is a board-certified psychiatrist. Prior to his
appointment to the position of Disability Determination
Physician, he worked under contract as a part-time medical
consultant for the Department of Disability Services for
approximately fourteen years. (Doc. 27-5 at 2). Additionally,
he had maintained a private practice in psychiatry since the
early- to mid-1990s. (Id. at 3; Doc. 29-1 at 31-32;
Doc. 32-10 at 11-12). As part of the application process for
the position, Dr. Sims submitted documentation showing a
cumulative salary in excess of $198, 950.00. (Doc. 26-1 at
Warren was the Director of Disability Services at the time
Drs. Reddy and Sellman were appointed to the position of
Disability Determination Physician. (Doc. 27-3 at 2). He
recommended their appointments, as well as the step at which
each should be appointed. (Id.). Norman Ippolito was
the Director of Disability Services at the time Dr. Sims was
appointed to the position of Disability Determination
Physician. (Doc. 27-5 at 2). He recommended Dr. Sims
appointment and the step at which Dr. Sims should be
appointed. (Id.). Jim Methvin is the current
Director of Disability Services. (Doc. 28-3 at 1). He
interviewed Drs. Reddy, Sellman, and Sims for the position of
Disability Determination Physician. (Id. at 2). He
also investigated the grievances Drs. Reddy and Sims lodged
regarding their salaries. (Doc. 32-24 at 4; Doc. 32-31 at
1-5). He sent a letter to each of the plaintiffs informing
her he had determined her grievance was unfounded. (Doc.
32-24 at 4; Doc. 32-31 at 1-5).
Ippolito, and Methvin testified that appointment above the
minimum step of the applicable pay grade involves
consideration of several factors, including an
applicant's current work and past experience with
Disability Determination Services and other employers. (Doc.
27-3 at 2; Doc. 27-5 at 2; Doc. 28-3 at 2). They testified
that whether, at the time of his or her appointment, a
physician is working in a clinical setting, providing medical
treatment to and interacting with patients, is extremely
important in considering an above-the-minimum appointment.
(Doc. 27-3 at 2; Doc. 27-5 at 2; Doc. 28-3 at 2). Ippolito
testified it is difficult to recruit and retain psychiatrists
to work for Disability Determination Services. (Doc. 27-5 at
2). He further testified he felt it was important for
Disability Determination Services to have a full-time
psychiatrist on staff to evaluate mental health claims and
that it would be a great benefit to the operation of
Disability Determination Services to employ a psychiatrist
with Dr. Sims' experience evaluating these types of
claims. (Id. at 2-3). It was Ippolito's
understanding Disability Determination Services had never
employed a psychiatrist full-time before Dr. Sims.
(Id. at 2). Methvin echoed Ippolito's testimony
that Disability Determination Services has difficulty
recruiting psychiatrists and further testified Drs. Reddy and
Sellman did not have a specialization that was difficult to
recruit. (Doc. 28-3 at 3). Warren, Ippolito, and Methvin
testified an applicant's current salary is another factor
relevant to an above-the-minimum appointment but is
considered only in conjunction with other factors. (Doc. 27-3
at 2; Doc. 27-5 at 2; Doc. 28-3 at 2).
Standard of Review
district court must grant summary judgment if the movant
shows there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The movant bears the initial burden of
informing the court of the basis for its motion and
identifying those portions of the pleadings or filings it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp.,
477 U.S at 323. Once the movant has met its burden, the non-
movant must go beyond the pleadings and identify specific
facts showing there is a genuine issue for trial.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.
substantive law identifies which facts are material and which
are irrelevant. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). The court should resolve all
reasonable doubts about the facts, and draw all justifiable
inferences, in the non-movant's favor. Fitzpatrick v.
City of Atlanta, 2 F.3d 1112, 1115 (11th Cir. 1993). A
dispute is genuine if the evidence would allow a reasonable
jury to return a verdict for the non-movant.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. If the evidence is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted. Id. at 249. Moreover, mere
conclusions and unsupported factual allegations are not
sufficient to defeat summary judgment. Ellis v.
England, 432 F.3d 1321, 1326 (11th Cir. 2005).