USA: Judge rules racial discrimination lawsuit against Airbnb must be settled in arbitration

Author: C. Ryan Barber, National Law Journal (USA), Published on: 2 November 2016

"Airbnb Arbitration Policy Blocks Guest's Race Discrimination Suit", 1 Nov 2016

Airbnb Inc.’s mandatory arbitration policy prohibits a guest of the rental home-sharing platform from suing over alleged race discrimination, a Washington federal judge ruled...Judge Christopher Cooper ruled for Airbnb in a suit in which an African-American guest...accused the San Francisco-based company of allowing racial discrimination on its home-sharing platform.  The plaintiff, Gregory Selden, alleged a homeowner in Philadelphia rejected his request to rent a residence...because he was black.  Airbnb...argued...that Selden knew...that he was required to take any dispute to arbitration.  “No matter one’s opinion of the widespread and controversial practice of requiring consumers to relinquish their fundamental right to a jury trial...Mutual arbitration provisions in electronic contracts—so long as their existence is made reasonably known to consumers—are enforceable...”  Cooper said “Airbnb’s sign-up procedures were sufficiently clear...While that result might seem inequitable to some, this court is not the proper forum for policy objections...”  Selden’s lawyer...said in a statement that "by placing Mr. Selden’s claims into arbitration, a consumer’s constitutional rights to a jury trial and access to the courts of law continues to be whittled down"...

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Related companies: Airbnb