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Airbnb Adds Forced Arbitration Revisions to Its Terms of Service

— August 18, 2021

Airbnb announced plan to update its terms of service.

Airbnb has announced that it will no longer require individuals who claim to be victims of sexual assault or sexual harassment to go through an arbitrator.  They will, instead, by able to file a lawsuit against the company directly.  The revisions will be included in the company’s terms of service.  Since January 2019, Airbnb contends that it hasn’t enforced arbitration on any of the “very few” sexual harassment cases raised by guests or hosts.  However, including this in its terms of service will make sure there is no question about the company’s intentions.

“We are a company who believes that in the 21st Century it is important to continually consider and reconsider the best ways to support our employees and strengthen our workplace,” a spokesperson for Airbnb said. “From the beginning, we have sought to build a culture of integrity and respect, and today’s changes are just one more step to drive belonging and integrity in our workplace.”

Airbnb Adds Forced Arbitration Revisions to Its Terms of Service
Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

According to Airbnb, the codified revisions will be officially ready this fall and it “will continue not to enforce our arbitration provisions as it relates to these cases.  We believe that survivors should be able to bring claims in whatever forum is best for them.  We encourage our industry peers within the travel and hospitality space to consider taking similar steps for their respective communities.”

The company said incidents involving sexual assault are “extremely rare” on its platform.  And, it added, “This team has undergone training in trauma-informed methodology, and they prioritize supporting and empowering survivors in their healing process.”

The original decision was made on the heels of Google’s, after employees threatened to walk out in order to change the tech giant’s arbitration policies.  They indicated the previous policies were discriminative, negatively affecting minorities and its contract workers which “make up more than half of Google’s workforce.”  Google decided to address the walkout by also ending forced arbitration.

Many other companies announced that they would also end these policies around the same time, too.  Airbnb made its announcement at the same time as eBay and Square, and while others were considering how to do so effectively.

Some tech employers never required forced arbitration in the first place so there was no need to make revisions.  “We have long been committed to building an inclusive company where employees are treated fairly.  Our employment agreements have never included an arbitration provision for harassment claims,” said a Pinterest spokesperson. Reddit’s spokesperson Anna Soellner added the company never had such a policy.

“eBay takes great pride in fostering an inclusive culture that allows employees to feel comfortable and encouraged to report any workplace issues,” a spokesperson said at the time of its decision. “We’ve adjusted our existing employee policy regarding sexual harassment claims to better reflect and encourage eBay’s values of being open, honest and direct.”


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