EEOC v. Consolidated Service Systems
989 F.2d 233 (7th Cir. 1993)

Consolidated was a cleaning company. Mr. Hwang, the company’s owner, was Korean. 73 percent of the applicants for jobs with Consolidated, and 81 percent of the hires, were Korean. However, less than 1 percent of the work force in the county was Korean.

  • The suit charges that the company discriminated in favor of persons of Korean origin, in violation of Title VII , by relying mainly on word of mouth to obtain new employees.

The district judge dismissed the suit.

Whether the circumstantial evidence compels an inference of intentional discrimination (i.e., “disparate treatment)?”

No. Affirmed.


  • The court emphasized that Consolidated was a small company, and the cheapest and most efficient method of recruitment was to rely on word of mouth rather than spend money on advertising.
    • That alone doesn’t amount to intentional discrimination.
  • “Knowledge of a disparity is not the same thing as an intent to cause or maintain it.”
  • Being passive can’t be intentional.

Rule: Use of word-of-mouth recruitment by a company does not give rise to an inference of intentional discrimination, absent evidence that the owner was biased in favor of group or prejudiced against any group underrepresented in its work force.

Disparate Impact: Cant’ have a disparate impact when everyone applying is Korean, and you didn’t cause that. Basically, word of mouth is not considered an employment practice because you aren’t doing anything.