Airbnb sued for racial discrimination after black man denied but fake white profiles accepted

A Virginia man is suing Airbnb after he claims that he was racially discriminated against by the popular house sharing website.  

Gregory Selden, 25, attempted to rent a place to stay in Philadelphia for a few days since often times the prices on the site for accommodations are cheaper than hotels.

The Richmond native explained to NBC 12 that he loved a housing option on Airbnb and promptly contacted the owner.

‘In this ad, it said ‘stay in the heart of Philadelphia.’ I was like ‘this is cool. 78 bucks, this is a good deal’,’ Selden said.

The Virginia man says he attempted to rent a place to stay in Philadelphia for a few days on the site since the residences are cheaper than hotels. Seldon (above) found a place and requested to book it from the owner

Selden received the message above from the owner stating the place is not available for the dates he tried to book it

‘When I went to request it, he got back to me the next morning telling me the space was unavailable. At that point I didn’t think anything of it, I was like ‘ok, cool’,’ Selden said of the property owner.

However, Selden checked back on the site hours later to discover that the same ad for the house he was rejected for was still visible for others to book it during the same dates he originally requested.

‘Normally when a place is filled, it won’t show up as available on there,’ he said.

The profiles on Airbnb show users faces and basic information. Selden decided that he would try and see if he could book the listing again, but under two fake profiles using the faces of an older white man and a younger one.

‘When I reached out to him on the fake profiles, subsequently he accepted both of them,’ Selden stated.

Selden said that he confronted the property owner on the site over his issue of first being denied to rent the property under his profile, but then being approved under two fake profiles showing the pictures of white men.

The property owner responded to Selden and wrote: ‘It’s a disappointment people like you always victimize yourselves solely on the basis of skin color.’

‘I’m not really sure what he meant by ‘you people’. It didn’t really sit too well with me….I’m really not looking for sympathy at this point, I just want to see some change in their policy,’ Selden explained.

Seldon said: 'When I reached out to him on the fake profiles, subsequently he accepted both of them.'Selden told NBC 12 that he reached out to Airbnb as soon as it happened, but he claims the billion dollar company didn’t respond until months later when his story went viral under the hashtag #AirBnBWhileBlack.

People across the world who say they’ve been discriminated against on Airbnb because of their race on their profile photo have shared their stories under the hashtag.

Airbnb is accused of denying Selden ‘full and equal enjoyment’ of lodging and services because of his race, in the lawsuit.

According to a study from Harvard University last year, Airbnb hosts are less likely to rent to people with ‘black’-sounding names.

The study found that the problem lies with how the site is designed, since hosts can see potential customers before agreeing to a booking.

The company has acknowledged the problem and said that it’s trying to fix the issues.

‘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,’ Airbnb spokesman Nick Papas said in a statement to CNN Money.

Source: The DailyMail

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