Last updated: 10:50 AM ET, Fri May 20 2016

Airbnb Sued for Alleged Discrimination

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | May 20, 2016

Airbnb Sued for Alleged Discrimination

Photo courtesy of Airbnb

Short-term rental service Airbnb has been hit with a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, CNN reported.

The suit, which was filed by 25-year-old African American Gregory Seldon in Washington, D.C. Tuesday, claims that the San Francisco-based company ignored his complaints after he was allegedly denied a booking because of his race.

Seldon said he was denied by a host in March 2015 but later created two fake profiles featuring photos of white men and was ultimately accepted by the host.

Despite reaching out to Airbnb, he claims he received no immediate response.

According to the lawsuit, Selden is suing the company for a violation of his rights under the Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts. 

His lawyers have requested a trial by jury.

"Under the Civil Rights laws, Airbnb qualifies as public accommodation. Airbnb serves essentially the same function as a hotel," attorney Ike Emejuru told CNN. "We are confident that there are numerous persons out there who will potentially join the class."

READ MORE: Does Airbnb Have a Discrimination Problem?

While undoubtedly a significant development, the lawsuit isn't the first time Airbnb has been linked to discriminatory practices.

Recently the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack became a trending topic on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. There, multiple users posted about similar experiences with the vacation rental service.

In a statement to CNN earlier this month, Airbnb's head of diversity David King acknowledged that there's a problem: "We recognize that bias and discrimination present significant challenges, and we are taking steps to address them."

King's comments came in the wake of a Harvard study conducted last year that found Airbnb hosts are more likely to rent to profiles with stereotypically white-sounding names compared to black-sounding names.

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