United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. BORDEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the court is a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by
Defendant Alabama State University (“ASU”). Doc.
Plaintiff Telma Hall filed this lawsuit on July 19, 2016,
alleging discrimination on the basis of her gender and
retaliation for complaining about different treatment on the
basis of gender in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 2000e,
et seq. (“Title VII”). Doc.
Specifically, Hall, who formerly served as ASU's head
softball coach, brings a claim of discrimination on the basis
of gender for the following actions: paying her less than
similarly situated male employees, denying her contracts with
the same terms and benefits, providing her sport with less
financial support, suspending her, terminating her
employment, failing to follow university policies, and
subjecting her to stricter scrutiny (Count I), and a claim of
retaliation also based on actions taken against her during
her employment (Count II). The parties have consented to
jurisdiction in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). After careful consideration of the parties'
submissions, the applicable law, and the record as a whole,
the court finds that the Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
20) is due to be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the claims in this
action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-5(f)(3) and 28
U.S.C. § 1331. The parties do not contest personal
jurisdiction or venue, and the court finds adequate
allegations to support both.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate “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). “Only disputes over facts that
might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law
will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A dispute of material fact is genuine only if
“the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
moving party “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 [dispute] of material fact.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(internal quotation marks omitted). In responding to a
properly supported motion for summary judgment, the nonmoving
party “must do more than simply show that there is some
metaphysical doubt as to the material fact.”
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., Ltd. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Indeed, the nonmovant
must “go beyond the pleadings” and submit
admissible evidence demonstrating “specific facts
showing that there is a genuine [dispute] for trial.”
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324 (internal quotation marks
omitted). If the evidence is “merely colorable, or is
not significantly probative, summary judgment may be
granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249 (citations
district court considers a motion for summary judgment, it
“must view all the evidence and all factual inferences
reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party, and must resolve all
reasonable doubts about the facts in favor of the
nonmovant.” Rioux v. City of Atlanta, Ga., 520
F.3d 1269, 1274 (11th Cir. 2008) (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted). The court's role is not to
“weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for
trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. “If a
reasonable fact finder evaluating the evidence could draw
more than one inference from the facts, and if that inference
introduces a genuine issue of material fact, then the court
should not grant summary judgment.” Allen v. Bd. of
Pub. Educ. for Bibb Cnty., 495 F.3d 1306, 1315 (11th
Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). Importantly, if the nonmovant
“fails to adduce evidence which would be sufficient . .
. to support a jury finding for [the nonmovant], summary
judgment may be granted.” Brooks v. Blue Cross
& Blue Shield of Fla., Inc., 116 F.3d 1364, 1370
(11th Cir. 1997) (citation omitted).
facts, taken in a light most favorable to the non-movant, are
was a female employee of ASU who served as the softball head
coach from October 17, 2005 until May 2, 2014. Hall also
served as an adjunct professor beginning in the summer of
2013, teaching physical education and wellness classes. Doc.
26-1 at 28:20-29:3. During her tenure, Hall served first
under Athletic Director Stacy Danley and then Athletic
Director Melvin Hines. Doc. 26-1 at 68:1-13.
adjunct professor, Hall was a part-time, at-will employee.
The length of a contract for an adjunct professor is one
semester. As a coach, Hall was classified as a
Special Athletic Appointee. Doc. 20-3 at 15. Head coaches at
ASU are responsible for their programs, including recruiting,
making sure athletes have a rewarding experience, requesting
budgets, and reporting NCAA violations. Doc. 20-6 at 42 &
and fringe benefits of coaches at ASU are set when the
coaches are hired. Each head coach is given a salary pool
that the head coach can divide among the number of paid
assistant coaches the NCAA allows for that sport. Doc. 20-6
at 105:6-16. ASU's President and Board of Trustees have
to approve the assistant coach salaries, however. Each sports
team's travel and recruitment budgets are established
with a specific amount set out in the total sport budget.
Doc. 20-6 at 57:23-58:20.
was hired at a salary of $34, 000 a year with no
performance-based bonuses and no car allowance. Doc. 26-5 at
2011, Hall made a request that the salary of the softball
assistant coach be increased. Doc. 26-8 at 142. In July of
that year, she emailed Danley, who was then the Athletic
Director, about increasing the budget and salaries for the
softball program. Doc. 26-8 at 144. Hall had been making $38,
079 since October 1, 2007, but her salary was raised to $45,
000. Doc. 26-5 at 122:23-123:2.
Melendez was a male employee of ASU who was hired as the
baseball head coach in 2011 at a base annual salary of $125,
000 with a car allowance, a signing bonus, and additional
bonuses and performance bonus opportunities. Doc. 26-5 at
124. Jose Vazquez and Drew Clark were hired as Associate and
Assistant Coaches for baseball, respectively. Vazquez was
hired at $80, 000 per year and Clark was hired at $40, 000
per year. Doc. 26-5 at 115.
November 2011, Hall filed a complaint with Danley about
gender equity and salary concerns related to the softball
January 2012, Hall filed an internal Title IX complaint (Doc.
20-3 at 43), which was denied on April 12, 2012, and she was
told that there is no avenue for appealing that decision.
Doc. 26-8 at 173.
became Acting Athletic Director in September 2012. He was
hired into the position of Athletic Director in 2014.
February 2013, Hall filed an EEOC charge alleging gender
discrimination in pay and terms of employment. Doc. 26-8. In
her EEOC charge, Hall complained that the baseball head coach
had a salary of $125, 000 in 2012, whereas Hall's salary
was $38, 079 and she did not have bonuses.
then signed her first contract that included both
performance-based bonuses for her and her assistant coaches
and a car allowance. Doc. 26-5 at 122. One bonus was based on
the Academic Progress Rate (“APR”) of the
athletes. Doc. 26-5 at 122. Melendez's contract still
included bonuses and bonus opportunities that Hall's
contract did not contain. Doc. 26-5 at 124.
24, 2013 Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”)
Resolution Agreement entered into by ASU required it to
“improve its hiring practices to attract more qualified
coaches to the women's programs, by seeking coaches with
more coaching experience by increasing compensation packages
and other conditions of employment so that the positions
offered are equivalent to those provided to coaches hired for
the men's teams, ” but did not require that
Hall's salary be increased. Doc. 26-8 at 191-3.
August 2013, Hines conducted a performance appraisal of Hall
and she received a rating of “Requires
Improvement” in the areas of quantity and quality of
work, and policies and procedures. Doc. 20-2 at 119:7-11. The
appraisal noted that Hall's overall record as a softball
coach was below 40%. Doc. 20-2 at 119:12-17. In addition, the
APR rate was below the NCAA's requirement. Doc. 20-2 at
February 2014, Gwendolyn Boyd became the President of ASU.
Doc. 26-3 at 106:10-13.
March 2, 2014, the first of two parents complaining about
Hall sent an e-mail to ASU. Doc. 20-2 at 127:3-18. The second
e-mail complaint followed on March 3, 2014. Doc. 20-2 at
135:17-22. The parents' complaints included allegations
that Hall did not provide sufficient food to the athletes
during team travel, that athletes were left on a bus, and
that practice hours prevented students from eating in the
cafeteria. Doc. 20-2 at 129:2-23 & 138:10-14.
March 4, 2014, ASU sent a letter to Hall placing her on
administrative leave with pay. Doc. 26-1 at 80. The letter
further stated that Hall was not “to contact any
student at Alabama State University.” Doc. 26-1 at 80.
It is undisputed that Hall was not allowed on campus to teach
or to continue to take her own graduate-level classes.
testified in her deposition that while she was at ASU, the
tennis coach and a baseball coach, Larry Watkins, were
allowed to teach classes after they had been removed as
coaches. Doc. 26-1 at 258:8-12.
Dixon, the Director of Human Resources at ASU, testified in
deposition that whether a coach who also is a teacher would
be entitled to remain on duty as a teacher if removed as a
coach would be a decision for the Provost. Doc. 26-7 at
presents evidence that a parent complained that Melendez was
requiring athletes to use performance-enhancing drugs (Doc.
26-24 at 7) and was investigated for possible NCAA
violations, but was not banned from campus or students. Hall
also states that Reggie Barlow and Craig Payne, both of whom
were football coaches, were investigated after they left ASU
for NCAA violations. Hall contends that Brian Jenkins was
hired by ASU as a football coach when he had pending
allegations of NCAA violations against him.
April 28, 2014, Hines recommended to John Knight, ASU's
Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer, that Hall
be terminated from her employment. Doc. 20-9. Hall's
notice of termination was issued on May 2, 2014. Doc. 26-1.
At the time the ...