Judge sends Airbnb discrimination suit to arbitration

Judge sends Airbnb discrimination suit to arbitration
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A judge on Monday sent a lawsuit alleging discrimination charges against Airbnb to arbitration.

Gregory Selden said in the lawsuit that he was discriminated against while trying to book a room on the service last year. After being declined by a host, he said he created profiles using pictures of white people. Both were accepted.

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“However, the Airbnb host agent merely shamed Selden for speaking out against the intentional discriminatory act,” said Selden in his complaint. “Specifically, the Host agent stated that Mr. Selden or ‘people like [him] were simply victimizing [himself].’”

He had sought class action status for the case.

But Airbnb argued that Selden had agreed to pursue any complaints through an individual arbitration process when he accepted the company’s terms of service.

"Plaintiff’s suit directly contravenes his agreement with Airbnb to arbitrate any and all disputes arising out of or relating to the use of the platform — including its interpretation — on an individual basis," the company said in a filing.

Federal judge Christopher R. Cooper on Monday granted Airbnb’s request.

“We have launched an aggressive effort to ensure our platform is fair for everyone and we will continue to work as hard as we know how to fight bias,” said an Airbnb spokesperson in an email, when asked for the company’s response to the decision.

“We won’t do the bare minimum to address this issue. We have seen how Airbnb can bring people together and our goal is to connect more people from different countries, communities, and cultures.”

 

Airbnb has fought back this year against a broader narrative about racial discrimination on its platform that began when Airbnb users used the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack to share their stories of discrimination. The company later enlisted outside help, including former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderThe most important pledge Democratic presidential candidates can make Congress and contempt: What you need to know The Hill's Morning Report - Democrats wonder: Can Nadler handle the Trump probe? MORE, to develop a strategy for combating discrimination.