United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER 
Russ Walker United States Magistrate Judge
Debra Shufford brings this action against the Alabama
Medicaid Agency and Stephanie McGee Azar in her official
capacity as the Agency's Commissioner (collectively,
“defendants”). Plaintiff alleges that she was
denied a promotion on account of her race, in violation of
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §
2000e et seq. (“Title VII”), and 42
U.S.C. §§ 1981 (“section 1981”) and
1983 (“section 1983”). See Doc. 1.
Plaintiff was employed by defendant Agency from 2002 until
August 1, 2017. See Doc. 28-1 ¶¶ 2, 5.
Plaintiff was a hired to the position of “Medicaid
Administrator I” in the Recipient Inquiry Unit and
retired in the position of “Medicaid Administrator
II” in the Technical Support division. See Id.
¶¶ 4, 6. This lawsuit concerns allegations of
racial discrimination under Title VII for defendants'
failure to promote plaintiff to a “Medicaid
Administrator III” position. See Doc. 1 ¶
action is before the court on defendants' motion for
summary judgment. Doc. 22. Plaintiff filed an opposition to
defendants' motion, Doc. 29, and defendants replied, Doc.
33. Upon review of the motion and the record, the court
concludes that the defendants' motion for summary
judgment is due to be granted.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD
movant is entitled to summary judgment if it “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). For summary judgment purposes, an issue
of fact is “material” if, under the substantive
law governing the claim, its presence or absence might affect
the outcome of the suit. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). If the movant fails to
satisfy its initial burden, the motion for summary judgment
will be denied. Kernel Records Oy v. Mosley, 694
F.3d 1294, 1300 (11th Cir. 2012), cert. denied, 133
S.Ct. 1810 (2013). If the movant adequately supports its
motion, the burden shifts to the opposing party to establish
- “by producing affidavits or other relevant and
admissible evidence beyond the pleadings” - specific
facts raising a genuine issue for trial. Josendis v. Wall
to Wall Residence Repairs, Inc., 662 F.3d 1292, 1315
(11th Cir. 2011); Dietz v. Smithkline Beecham Corp.,
598 F.3d 812, 815 (11th Cir. 2010); Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(A).
“All affidavits [and declarations] must be based on
personal knowledge and must set forth facts that would be
admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence[.]”
Josendis, 662 F.3d at 1315; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).
The court views the evidence and all reasonable factual
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmovant.
Miller's Ale House, Inc. v. Boynton Carolina Ale
House, LLC, 702 F.3d at 1315; Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).
However, “the nonmoving party ‘must do more than
show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts, ” and “[i]f the evidence is merely
colorable, or is not significantly probative, summary
judgment may be granted.” Graham v. State Farm Mut.
Ins. Co., 193 F.3d 1274, 1282 (11th Cir. 1999) (internal
citations omitted). “If no reasonable jury could return
a verdict in favor of the nonmoving party, there is no
genuine issue of material fact and summary judgment will be
granted.” Morton v. Kirkwood, 707 F.3d 1276,
1284 (11th Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) (internal quotation
BACKGROUND AND UNDISPUTED FACTS 
Alabama Medicaid Agency (“the Agency”) is a
governmental agency of the State of Alabama, which provides
claims payment to providers of medical services in Alabama.
Stephanie McGee Azar (“Azar”) is the Agency's
current commissioner, a position she has occupied since May
2012. Doc. 24-1 at 2-3.
Agency is divided into a number of programs, alternately
referred to as divisions, including but not limited to, the
Managed Care, Beneficiary Services, Health Management, and
Program Management. Id. Each program or division is
divided into subdivisions which are referred to as units or
components. Id. The Managed Care division deals with
the “programmatic side of handling care management or
Managed Care program issues and the administration of the
benefit operations of that program.” Id. It
was formed in response to response to discussions about
pending legislation which would direct the Agency to develop
a managed care program. Doc. 24-4 at 2. The managed care
legislation, which was passed as Alabama Act Number 2013-261,
also known as the Regional Care Organization legislation
(“RCO legislation”), changed many of the
requirements for different jobs throughout the Agency,
including those in the Managed Care division. See
id.; Doc. 24-1 at 5.
Hiring Practices at the Alabama Medicaid Agency
hiring at the Agency involves the supervisor of the vacant
position, the Agency's human resources department
(“HR”), and the State of Alabama Personnel
Department (“State Personnel”). See Doc.
24-6 at 3. When a position at the Agency becomes vacant, the
supervisor of that position usually informs HR staff, who
respond to the supervisor with a list of individuals from
State Personnel - known as the “register” - who
meet the minimum qualifications for the grade or job
classification for the vacancy. See id.; Doc. 24-1
at 17. State Personnel compiles a single register for each
job classification series (e.g., all “Medical
Administrator II” positions) which ranks individuals by
a numerical job score assigned by State Personnel based on
various factors which are relevant to each position. Doc.
24-1 at 4, 6-7, 17. However, because different positions vary
even within the same job classification series, the hiring
supervisor for each vacancy determines whether a given
candidate has the requisite qualifications and experience for
the specific position. See Doc. 24-6 at 3. For each
position, the hiring supervisor develops what is known as a
“Form 40, ” which describes the duties and tasks
for a particular position. See Doc. 24-6 at 4, 11,
order to be listed on the register, individuals must fill out
an application for that job classification with State
Personnel, which then certifies that the applicant meets the
minimum qualifications for the grade and assigns a score
before placing them on the register. Doc. 24-1 at 6.
Applicants are listed on the register in descending order by
score, and vacancies for any given job classification may
only be filled by a candidate with one of the top ten scores
on the register. Id. at 7. The top ten candidates on
the register are described as being in “Band 1.”
Id. Although HR may view the current register at any
time, once a register is certified, or “pulled, ”
a candidate in the top ten must be hired for the position.
See Doc. 24-1 at 8; Doc. 24-6 at 3, 5, 8. While a
candidate's sex is indicated on the register used to
review the list of eligible candidates for a job
classification, race is only indicated once the register has
been pulled. Doc. 28-10 at 48. When applicants transfer from
a different position in the same classification (i.e., when
they are not being promoted to a new job classification), HR
is not required to certify the register. Doc. 24-6 at 5.
Registers are only certified at the request of the supervisor
for the vacancy being filled. Doc. 24-6 at 15.
is notified of a vacancy, the hiring supervisor may ask to
conduct initial interviews with the top ten candidates on the
register prior to the register's being pulled.
Id. at 3. Interviews are usually held, but they are
not a strict requirement to hire into a promotional position.
Doc. 24-1 at 8; 24-6 at 10. After conducting initial
interviews, if the hiring supervisor selects a particular
candidate, HR pulls the official register. Doc. 24-6 at 3.
However, the hiring supervisor may determine that none of the
available candidates meets the requirements of the position.
Doc. 24-6 at 8. If the register is pulled before candidates
are interviewed, the top ten candidates on the register for a
given job classification are notified through an availability
letter, which informs the candidates that a vacancy for the
job classification will be filled, and one of the top ten
candidates will be hired. See Doc. 24-6 at 5-6.
Candidates must re-apply to a job classification periodically
to remain on the register for a given position to avoid
having their names dropped or removed from the list. Doc.
24-6 at 10. There is no routine process whereby HR monitors
the register for any given job classification, and HR does
not typically notify applicants that they have fallen off the
register. Doc. 24-6 at 11. However, it is the usual practice
for HR to monitor the register for a particular
classification approximately once or twice per week if it is
aware of a vacancy or if a supervisor makes a request to be
informed which names currently appear on the register. Doc.
24-6 at 8.
Plaintiff's Educational and Employment Background
earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a minor in chemistry
from the Tuskegee Institute, and a Master of Science degree
from Alabama State University. Doc. 28-1 ¶ 3. She also
attended the University of Alabama in Birmingham School of
Dentistry for approximately one year. Id.
was first employed by the Agency in 2002 as a Medicaid
Administrator I (“MA I”) in the Recipient Inquiry
Unit, which no longer exists. Id. ¶¶ 5-7.
She was promoted to a Medicaid Administrator II (“MA
II”) position in the same unit, and later interviewed
and selected to be the Associate Director of the Prior
Approval Unit in the Medical Services division at the time
the Recipient Inquiry Unit was being closed. Id.
¶ 7. Plaintiff was subsequently transferred to
Eligibility division and replaced by Nancy Headley in the
Prior Approval Unit. Id. ¶ Plaintiff later
became the Regional Coordinator in the Elderly and Disabled
division, before becoming the Associate Director of the
Operational Readiness division. Id. ¶¶
Managed Care MA III Position
August of 2013, plaintiff responded to a job announcement for
a Medical Administrator III (“MA III) position in the
Managed Care division, interviewed for the position, and was
2013, Georgette Harvest, the HR director for the Agency at
the time, became aware that the Managed Care division would
have an MA III vacancy due to the retirement of Nancy
Headley, the MA III for the division. Doc. 24-6 at 4. Dr.
Moon, the deputy of Managed Care, immediately began the
process of trying to fill the vacancy. Id. The Form
40 for the position was based on the duties that Headley had
previously been performing in the position. Id. at
5. However, due to the passage of the RCO legislation, which
required the Agency to significantly expand the Managed Care
program, the duties of the MA III vacancy went beyond those
of Headley, the incumbent MA III. Doc. 24-4 at 5. Headley was
a registered nurse. Doc. 24-6 at 4.
was notified about the MA III vacancy in the Managed Care
division by Moon, the hiring supervisor, it first emailed all
existing MA IIIs in the Agency at the time and asked if any
was interested in applying or interviewing for the position.
Doc. 24-6 at 5; Doc. 28-10 at 4. No. individuals occupying MA
III positions in the Agency requested to interview for the
position. Id. Harvest then accessed the State
Personnel system to view the top ten candidates on the MA III
register and emailed the candidates on July 30, 2013 to
inquire about their interest in interviewing for the vacancy.
Doc. 24-6 at 5-6; Doc. 28-10 at 5-16. The email stated:
An MA III vacancy will exist in the managed care division.
Our records indicate that you are currently on the MA III
register. If you are interested in interviewing for this
vacancy, please contact Angela Williams no later than five
p.m., Monday, August 5th, 2013. You are not required to send
notification if you are not interested in interviewing for
the position. ...