AirBnb Sued for Racial Discrimination
A lawsuit filed on Tuesday against AirBnb, the company that describes itself on its website as “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet,” for allegedly ignoring complaints of racial discrimination from one of its users.
In the lawsuit, AirBnb user Gregory Selden alleges that he was denied by a host in March 2015 because of the color of his skin. Selden claims that when he created two other profiles with white men as the profile pictures, the host accepted his reservation. Selden claims that AirBnb ignored his complaints where he alleged the racial discrimination.
Selden confronted the host in a message, saying, “I just want to let you know that I’m quite aware of you not renting to me because of my skin color.” The host replied by simply saying, “Hi Gregory! Thanks for your inquiry. Unfortunately the place is not available.
AirBnb made the following comment on CNBC about the allegation and lawsuit, “While we do not comment on pending litigation, we strongly believe that racial discrimination is unacceptable and it flies in the face of our mission to bring people together.”
I think it’s possible that the person did discriminate based on race, but I am also curious what Mr. Selden’s rating was on AirBnb. It is entirely possible that Mr. Seldon had a few negative reviews that could possibly lead to him being denied. I’m sure that will be something that is brought out in the course of the lawsuit, but we will have to wait and see what exactly comes out on this. I guess the counter to that would be the fact that the host accepted two other requests, when they likely had no reviews, given they were fake profiles created by Mr. Seldon. I do find it odd that Seldon would have automatically been drawn to test the host. I can’t say that if I was denied a request I would think there was anything suspicious involved. I think my natural inclination would be to just believe that the place was no longer available. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how this one turns out. Will AirBnb settle or will this go to court? We’ll be here to write a post on it when it occurs!