California residents who are contemplating employment discrimination actions should consider the importance of similarly situated employees. It is likely in any employment discrimination case brought in federal court that the judge will compare the treatment of the plaintiff to the treatment of other similarly situated employees of the company. The definition of who, exactly, qualifies as a similarly situated employee may vary widely from case to case, but there are certain factors that a judge will commonly consider.
The court will often look at whether or not the plaintiff and the proposed similarly situated employee shared the same supervisor or had similar disciplinary history and performance evaluations. The court may also consider the similarity of the tasks and responsibilities of the employees and their relative levels of experience. While an exact match is not necessary, the court is more likely to find that another employee was similarly situated to the plaintiff if their circumstances match closely.
It is not required in all employment discrimination cases to offer evidence of a similarly situated employee. There have been cases where plaintiffs have won and collected damages even without one, but it is almost always helpful in discrimination cases to offer comparison with others who were treated differently.
Indeed, when it comes to identifying a similarly situated employee for the court, it’s best to do it as early as possible. Beginning the process early allows the plaintiff’s attorney more time and opportunity to gather relevant information during discovery. In a case where an individual feels he or she has experienced workplace discrimination, an attorney may be able to help by evaluating the facts of the case and developing a strategy to prevail.