Public employee salaries
Q: I would like to know the status of public release of public employment salaries. I know about the Oakland case, and Teamsters Local 856 v. Priceless, LLC which seemed to indicate that release of salaries connected with the names of employees is prohibited. How about requests for actual salaries by position and not connected with names. Is a public agency bound by CPRA to release such information? Is the $100,000 and above salary limit pertinent?
A: The status of the pubic release of public employee salary information is in flux until the California Supreme Court rules on an appeal of the decision requiring Oakland to release the names and salary information of all employees who earned more than $100,000. One reason the courts in the Oakland case refused to follow the Teamsters decision was that, in Oakland, there was a history of the city making this informationavailable to anyone who wanted it, while in Teamsters the courts found that certain cities had kept the information confidential. Another is that the Oakland court thought that the public interest in disclosure of salary information for public employees who earn more than $100,000 was greater than any interest supporting non-disclosure. Recently, the Marin County Board of Supervisors agreed that the Teamsters decision did not require Marin to keep the salary information confidential and they voted unanimously to make the names and compensation publicly available.
One factor that supported disclosure in Marin was that there, like Oakland, there was a history of public access to this information. With respect to request for actual salaries by position and not connected with names, even the Teamsters court said that was not only permitted but required under the California Public Records Act. It was only when the information was connected to specific names that the Teamsters court saw a potential privacy issue on the ground that, since the information had historically been confidential in the cities who were litigating in Teamsters, the employees had a reasonable expectation of privacy in not having their names linked to specific salary information.