On March 21, 2019, the full en banc U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit clarified that in order to establish a prima facie case of workplace discrimination through alleged preferential treatment of a comparator outside the plaintiff’s protected class, a plaintiff must show that the alleged comparator is “similarly situated in all material respects.” The opinion clarifies the “similarly situated” standard in discrimination cases and may assist employers in obtaining summary judgment, particularly in cases in courts located in the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Florida, Georgia, and Alabama.
In Lewis v. Union City, Georgia (Case No. 15-11362), an African-American woman sued her former employer for race and gender discrimination. In support of her claim, she identified two white men who she alleged were treated more favorably. The district court granted summary judgment to the employer, concluding that the two white men were not proper comparators, but a panel of the Eleventh Circuit reversed.