Capitol Alert

Audit finds gender wage gap persists in some California counties

Gov. Jerry Brown stands to applaud female factory workers from WWII as he visits the Rosie the Riveter National Monument to sign an equal pay bill into law last year. A new state audit found gender wage gaps among male and female employees of four California counties.
Gov. Jerry Brown stands to applaud female factory workers from WWII as he visits the Rosie the Riveter National Monument to sign an equal pay bill into law last year. A new state audit found gender wage gaps among male and female employees of four California counties. TNS

Gender wage disparities exist at four large California counties, according to a new state audit, which recommends that lawmakers require counties to better track gender pay differences.

The Bureau of State Audits review focused on four counties – Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange and Santa Clara – and found that female employees’ total pay was between 73 percent and 88 percent of what male employees earned. The gap widened slightly during the five years reviewed, from 2010-11 through 2014-15.

“This report concludes that a gender wage gap continues to exist” despite pay fairness rules on the books, Tuesday’s audit said.

The audit’s authors said they found no evidence of intentional gender discrimination. Rather, they said, differences often reflect how long an employee has been in the same job, full- or part-time employment, as well as starting salaries, which can hinge on pay and experience in prior jobs.

Counties mostly lacked documentation of hiring decisions, the audit found. Counties could provide paperwork to justify their decisions in only 39 of 154 competitive hirings, the audit said.

Tuesday’s report recommended that lawmakers require public employers to include gender information with the payroll data they provide to the state Controller’s Office. The Legislature also should publicly report gender pay disparities and periodically compare the differences in total average job compensation between male and female workers.

All four counties generally agreed with the audit’s findings.

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