EEOC Suing Crime Scene Cleaners for Sex Discrimination

Anyone who has seen the movie Sunshine Cleaning knows that crime scene clean-up is a gender-inclusive vocation. But according to Crime Scene Cleaners, an Oakland-based company that specializes in homicide, suicide and accidental death scene cleaning operations, this isn’t true.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing Crime Scene Cleaners for refusing to hire a qualified applicant because she’s a woman. The lawsuit, claiming sex discrimination, asserts that the company was more interested in Kristi Nunez’s marital status and gender than her qualifications for a job.

Nunez said:

At the interview, I was hoping to talk about my educational background in chemistry and my experience with crime scenes from volunteering with the Richmond Police Department, but all the interviewer wanted to talk about was if I was married, if I had a jealous husband and if I could work with all men.

The company hired a man for the job.

The EEOC alleges that Crime Scene Cleaners has violated Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964, and has also failed to keep records of applicants and interviews. EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado said:

Failing to keep records will not deter the EEOC  from investigating discrimination. As in this case, we will enforce the federal EEO laws that require employers to keep records concerning hiring decisions, and hold responsible the employers who fail to do so.

David Miller, a lawyer for Crime Scene Cleaners, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the company never interviewed Nunez:

We don’t know who she is. We told them, ‘Show us her picture. A driver’s license will do.’ They refused to show us an image of her. They have persisted in refusing to let us even see her.

But EEOC attorney Cindy O’Hara said the company didn’t deny interviewing Nunez and instead said she wasn’t right for the job.

So let’s get this straight, a woman can clean the house, but not after a crime has happened there?

Photo from Flickr user Joost J. Bakker under Creative Commons 2.0.


Sarah is a visual journalism student at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. She has a near obsession with ending injustice and is a sucker for a good cause.