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Emanuel v. Alabama State University

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

July 18, 2019

RICHARD EMANUEL, Plaintiff,
v.
ALABAMA STATE UNIVERSITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          ANDREW L. BRASHER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is an employment discrimination lawsuit between Richard Emanuel (“Plaintiff”) and his former employer Defendant Alabama State University (“ASU”). This matter comes before the court on ASU's Motion for Summary Judgment. (Doc. 29). The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for decision.

         I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

         Subject matter jurisdiction is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1331 as to Plaintiff's federal causes of action. The parties do not contest personal jurisdiction or venue, and there are adequate allegations to support both. See 28 U.S.C. § 1391.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate when 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 Court views the evidence, and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Jean-Baptiste v. Gutierrez, 627 F.3d 816, 820 (11th Cir. 2010).

         The party moving for summary judgment “always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for the motion.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). This responsibility includes identifying the portions of the record illustrating the absence of a genuine dispute of material fact. Id. Alternatively, a movant who does not have a trial burden of production can assert, without citing the record, that the nonmoving party “cannot produce admissible evidence to support” a material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(1)(B); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 advisory committee's note (“Subdivision (c)(1)(B) recognizes that a party need not always point to specific record materials.... [A] party who does not have the trial burden of production may rely on a showing that a party who does have the trial burden cannot produce admissible evidence to carry its burden as to the fact.”).

         If the movant meets its burden, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to establish - with evidence beyond the pleadings - that a genuine dispute material to each of its claims for relief exists. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324. A genuine dispute of material fact exists when the nonmoving party produces evidence allowing a reasonable fact finder to return a verdict in its favor. Waddell v. Valley Forge Dental Assocs., 276 F.3d 1275, 1279 (11th Cir. 2001).

         III. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a Caucasian male who began his employment with ASU on August 19, 2002, as an Assistant Professor of Speech Communications. Over the course of his career at ASU, Plaintiff was twice promoted, granted tenure, and held the position of Professor of Speech Communications. In his Complaint, Plaintiff alleged that although he “has received salary increases during his tenure with ASU, his salary [at the time he filed his Complaint] is still lower than it would have been in the absence of discriminatory compensation decisions made throughout his career with ASU.” (Doc. 20 ¶ 22).

         Plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on September 7, 2016, alleging race and gender discrimination. The EEOC issued a Notice of Right to Sue letter to Plaintiff on June 29, 2017. On August 8, 2018, ASU informed Plaintiff that it had selected an African-American female professor instead of him as the Communication Department Chair, “a position for which he applied after filing the [EEOC complaint], and for which he was, objectively, more qualified.” (Doc. 20 ¶ 37).

         Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this court on September 29, 2017. In the Amended Complaint, Plaintiff averred the following counts:

Count I - Race Discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (“Title VII”).
Count II - Race Discrimination under 42 U.S.C. ยง1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended ...

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