Recently we talked about coded language meant to disguise discriminatory intent  –  “language workaround,” as one reader called it.   We posted a comment from a reader, Claudia D. Orr, an employment attorney in the Detroit area, who informed us that she had heard of a temp agency which “honored illegal requests.”   A client apparently said “don’t send us anyone from Detroit” – which was “code for they only want white temps sent.”

Another reader familiar with the world of broadcasting who saw this post (and asked not to be identified) told us about another language workaround —  “no urban dictates.”

11519057_sShe wrote:

“Thank you for posting this Richard. This practice extends to other industries as well.  I am not sure if this practice is still wide spread but in media there used to be something called “no urban dictates.”  They were common especially when it came to “urban” radio.  Ad agencies would not place ads on these stations because companies often associated “urban listeners” with a certain lifestyle — urban stations largely target the African American community.  Some radio stations got around this dictate by using other names for their formats but still played the same content.

I am hoping this practice has changed. Many big name companies engaged in this practice, but I do not know if any litigation ever came of it because businesses can spend ad dollars any way they want.”


We did some quick research and found the following quote about “no urban dictates” and race and ethnicity discrimination from an article published three years ago:

“the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau released an Enforcement Advisory reminding television and radio broadcasters that they must certify in their broadcast applications that their advertising contracts do not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity.

This comes as a response to “No Urban Dictate” (NUD) policies civil rights leaders and minority broadcasters report are in place and actively executed in the advertising industry. This occurs when advertisers and their agencies intentionally by-pass urban and Latino stations, supposedly because the advertiser client has dictated that its ads not be placed with those outlets.

African-American broadcasters have long said the unspoken policies exist. The issue was first brought to the FCC by the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) 27 years ago.”

Anyone else have any language workarounds?