A&A: How to I get city to admit to under-reporting employee compensation?

Q: The City withheld pay and benefit information that resulted in under reporting almost all of the City’s employees’ pay, including the Police Chief’s pay by $66,951.83 a year? I have posted the original request, the data provided by the City, and exchanges with the City Attorney’s Office.

A: As you may know, the California Supreme Court has held that the names and salaries of individual public employees should generally be public. International Federation of Processional Engineers v. Superior Court, 42 Cal. 4th 319, 331 (“[t]he ‘broadly based and widely accepted community norm[]’ applicable to government employee salary information is public disclosure”).

However, it sounds like you may have obtained the information you requested and are instead considering what action you might take based on the under-reporting. Although analyzing what actions might be available to address the under-reporting of government employee pay is beyond the scope of what we can address through this service, you may be able to find an attorney to advise you either through the First Amendment Coalition’s Lawyer’s Assistance Request Form at https://firstamendmentcoalition.org/legal-hotline/lawyers-assistance-request-form/ or one of the entities listed on the American Bar Association web site at http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/main.cfm?id=CA.

Holme Roberts & Owen LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to First Amendment Coalition hotline inquiries. In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.