Airbnb is a room rental service that pairs homeowner hosts with renters around the world. Airbnb is often used by travelers as an alternative to traditional vacation accommodations such as hotels.
Renting through Airbnb gives renters the opportunity to visit a location while staying with local hosts in a home-like setting. There are many benefits for hosts as well. Hosts can make extra money and host guests from around the world.
Recently, Airbnb has been under scrutiny over allegations of discrimination against renters by hosts. A research paper by Harvard University found that renters with African-American sounding names were 16 percent less likely to be accepted as renters by Airbnb hosts than renters with white-sounding names.
Additionally, certain renters have reported that hosts have refused to rent their properties to them, after seeing their photos, which are shown after the renters have booked a room. Some renters have alleged discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and other characteristics as well.
How has Airbnb Inc., responded? The company has reached out to sources to address the current issues and enforce policy changes. The company is encouraging a more diverse pool of hosts to join Airbnb. It is also providing anti-bias training for employees.
Starting in November, Airbnb will require hosts to pledge not to discriminate against renters. Hosts who are found discriminating against guests will be removed.
Airbnb seems to be taking steps in the right direction to address discrimination. But ultimately, Airbnb can’t control the thoughts and actions of its hosts.
What do you think of the situation? Is Airbnb doing enough to prevent discrimination? Are they limited in what they can do given the unique nature of the company-host relationship? Please share your thoughts below.
If you wish to speak to a workplace discrimination lawyer, please contact Bononi Law Group in Pasadena, California, at 213-550-5503.