Lawsuit Alleges Bias in Real Estate Ads

By Staff

Vol. 11, No. 2, 1989, p. 14

In New York, a lawsuit involving the absence of black models in advertisements for housing is pending against the New York Times. The suit was filed by the New York Open Housing Center and the NAACP, although the NAACP subsequently withdrew from the case saying its internal policy of negotiating before suing had not been followed.

The complaint, filed January 12, charges that display real-estate advertising in the Times has essentially used only white models for more than 20 years.

A spokesman for the Times disputed the charges and said the newspaper had written in 1988 to real-estate advertisers urging them to comply with discrimination laws regarding ads for housing.

"Pictures of only white people give a message to Times readers that is loud, it's clear, and it's discriminatory," said Betty Hoeber, director of the Center. A statement announcing the lawsuit said the plaintiffs wanted an agreement with the Times similar to an understanding reached in 1986 with the Washington Post, which now requires commercial real-estate advertisers to have a minimum number of black models in ads that use models.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights. Call Cheryl Packwood, 212-848-4980, for more information.