WASHINGTON, D.C.: The national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (national Lawyers’ Committee) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice (Boston Lawyers’ Committee) have urged Airbnb to take immediate action to address discrimination faced by African-American and other minority users of the company’s site.
On June 7, 2016, the organizations opened an inquiry into Airbnb after reviewing complaints and other information that revealed that African-American and other minority guests were denied rental opportunities on the site on the basis of their race.
On June 23, the Lawyers’ Committee and other civil rights organizations met with senior officials of Airbnb to discuss its concerns. The recommendations offered today seek to eliminate discrimination faced by African-American, Latino and minority Airbnb users that often results from a host’s reliance upon profile photos, user names and other subjective criteria in determining whether or not to offer a rental opportunity to a prospective guest. The organizations urge elimination of mandatory photos and disclosure of photos and profile names after confirmation and finalization of a rental opportunity.
“No consumer should face discrimination on the basis of race in today’s sharing economy,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Airbnb must take action to eliminate discrimination faced by African American and other minority consumers who seek equal access to the rental opportunities made available through the company’s website.”
“Airbnb has a social responsibility to be a proactive partner in the work of rooting out discrimination in its marketplace,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice. “There are straightforward, cost-effective steps that Airbnb can take to reduce the role of implicit bias in Airbnb rentals and to effectively respond to complaints of overt discrimination.”
Other recommendations set forth by the organizations include the banning of Airbnb hosts who are routinely the subject of substantiated discrimination complaints, providing a clearer complaint process for users, institution of implicit bias training for site users, and other corrective actions.
Airbnb users have the legal right to be free from racial discrimination in Airbnb rental transactions. Federal laws prohibit racial discrimination in the making and enforcing of contracts and the sale and rental of property. The Fair Housing Act and Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (in the U.S.) ban discrimination in public accommodations under certain circumstances. State human rights laws and state public accommodations laws, provide greater protection in certain states, and also prohibit similar discrimination.
About the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Formed over 50 years ago, we continue our quest of “Moving America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and community development; employment; voting; education; environmental justice; and criminal justice. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
The Boston Lawyers’ Committee is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan legal organization that provides pro bono legal representation to victims of discrimination based on race or national origin. The Committee’s mission is to provide a safeguard for the civil, social, and economic liberties of residents in Greater Boston and throughout Massachusetts. The Boston Lawyers’ Committee engages in public policy advocacy, community legal education, community economic development, and other legal services that further the cause of civil rights. For more information about the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, visit www.lawyerscom.org.