Crime Scene Cleaners Sued For Sex Bias

OAKLAND, Calif. — Oakland-based Crime Scene Cleaners, a trauma scene cleaning company specializing in homicide, suicide and accidental death scene cleanup operations, violated federal law by refusing to hire a qualified female applicant because of her gender, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today.

The federal agency asserts that Kristi Nunez responded to an advertisement by Crime Scene and applied for a position as a crime scene cleaner in November 2006. Although clearly qualified for the position, Nunez was asked a series of questions during her job interview that indicated she was not viewed as an appropriate candidate for the job because she is female, said the EEOC. Nunez was not hired, and the company hired a man for the position instead. The EEOC’s lawsuit also charges the company with failure to keep records as required by law, so that equal opportunity hiring records can be checked.

“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,” said Nunez. “I expected questions about my qualifications for the job, not about my personal life.”

Discrimination based on gender violates Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964. After first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through conciliation, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Crime Scene Cleaners, Inc.) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and seeks monetary damages on behalf of Nunez, training on anti-discrimination laws, posting of anti-discrimination notices at the work site, and other steps to prevent future discrimination.

EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo said, “Stereotyping jobs as ‘women’s work’ or ‘men’s work’ is illegal and simply wrong in a modern workplace. Employers must look at an applicant’s qualifications, not gender.”

EEOC San Francisco District Director Michael Baldonado added, “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.”

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.

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