A man looking for a place to stay in Philadelphia is now suing Airbnb claiming the house-sharing website facilitated racial discrimination against him.
In March 2015, 25-year-old Virginia resident Gregory Selden, who is black, wanted a place to stay in Philadelphia but was rejected by an Airbnb host, according to Jezebel. That same host, though, accepted requests from two fake profiles depicting white men that Selden set up after his rejection.
"Although the individual was renting a private home – people would say, 'Can't you do whatever you want with your private home?' – the fact is that he opened it up to the public," legal analyst Steve Benjamin said to Richmond, Virginia’s NBC12. "And the law is, once you do that, you're not allowed to discriminate."
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Selden’s lawsuit, beginning with a complaint filed this past Tuesday in Washington, D.C., accused Airbnb of denying him "full and equal enjoyment" of its services based on his race, CNN Money reported. His suit seeks class action status as other similar stories have been reported on social media with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.
"We recognize that bias and discrimination present significant challenges, and we are taking steps to address them,” an Airbnb statement was quoted by NBC12. “Profile photos are an important part of our community and are one of the many tools that help hosts and guests connect with one another.”
Earlier this week, Airbnb sent Selden an email asking to arrange a phone conversation with him, NBC12 added, also stating that after his Airbnb ordeal, Selden instead booked a hotel room in Philadelphia.