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Case Analysis: Airbnb: Can It Regulate
1. Does the evidence presented convince you that Airbnb hosts may be discriminating?
Why or why not?
As a group we discussed this issue and we agreed that there is a very good chance that the
hosts are discriminating against African-Americans. The proof is shown by the fact that
identical profiles were created in the study, with the only difference being racial.
Sometimes the profiles were only different because the name the individual sounded as if
it might belong to a black person instead of a white person. These individuals were 16%
less likely to get the reservation compared to the white version of the profile.
2. Do you think Airbnb’s non-discrimination policy will be enforceable? How should
the company go about enforcing this policy?
We believe that a non-discrimination policy should be enforced but the tricky part of
enforcing this is that these homes belong to private owners. These homes are not public
buildings, but they are offering their homes on a public site. Comparing this to rental’s, a
landlord cannot discriminate against a potential renter. If under contract, the Airbnb
owners could enforce their non-discrimination policy based on the precedents of rental
laws and following a hotel policy. If the company can have each home owner sign a
contract with Airbnb before they can make homes available to rent, they would legally be
able to enforce their policy.
3. What can Airbnb do to help hosts understand the complexities of serving as a
“public accommodation” rather than simply being the landlord in a private home?
A possible solution that we came up with was to have Airbnb release a series of videos
before having the home owners sign a contract. These videos would explain that the
homes have to present equal opportunities to each person, following anti-discrimination
laws. They should represent themselves as a public accommodation since they are
allowing strangers to stay in their homes and not just a friend or family. As they are
offering their homes through a public service, the home owners should be aware that they
are then going to be opening up their house to each and every reasonable person.
4. Is it possible that Airbnb could be faced with other types of discrimination claims;
for example, it is quite likely that many private homes are not handicap accessible.
Should Airbnb require hosts to meet the standards for handicap accessibility? Why
or why not?
There are several different discrimination cases that Airbnb could face. They could be
faced with not offering certain accommodations, especially for handicap or disabled
individuals. It is hard to force every home owner to make their home handicapaccessible, but the home owner should list whether or not the house is handicapaccessible in the description of their home. Also, Airbnb could face an age discrimination
case. Many of the owners get to set different age limits for their homes and can choose to
not let certain people rent based on their age. In the case that alcohol is provided, they
could list that the age needs to be 21 years of age or they could simply just remove
alcohol from the house instead. A filter in the search for Airbnb rentals could be helpful
based on age, handicap accessible, and etc. We feel as if this can all be taken care of if a
filter in the searching of Airbnb rentals is accessible.
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