California workers who file discrimination lawsuits against their employers may need to identify a similarly situated employee who was treated differently. The idea of the similarly situated employee may differ if the case is a class action one, but for an individual complaint, a similarly situated employee is someone who is comparable in several ways. Factors such as experience level, supervisor, performance evaluations and job duties may make another worker a similarly situated employee.

Courts differ in how many factors must match up for a worker to be considered similarly situated. Furthermore, not all courts will require the identification of a similarly situated employee although doing so can strengthen a case.

An employee who is suing an employer should identify the similarly situated employee early in the process. This allows ample time to gather as much evidence as possible to establish the similarity between the two during discovery when the employer is required to share information.

Employees in many different categories are protected against discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Furthermore, the state of California expands its protection beyond those offered by federal law. An employee is protected against religious discrimination, sex discrimination, racial discrimination and many other types. Establishing that the discrimination happened on the basis of this characteristic is an important aspect of these cases, and this is why identifying a similarly situated employee can be critical. For example, two employees may be nurses with the same level of experience, a similar work history and the same supervisor. One might allege religious discrimination and show that a similarly situated employee was not denied requests to change shifts, made to work overtime or berated by the supervisor. This may help establish a pattern that suggests discrimination.