Photo via North Charleston/Flickr (CC-BY-SA)
Airbnb is in the middle of addressing discrimination complaints that have plagued the site. The company said Wednesday that it's enlisted some major in help in the form of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who has joined its anti-discrimination team.
“We are honored [Holder] has agreed to join our team to help craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky wrote in a blog post on the site. “Holder will be working with John Relman, a leading civil rights attorney and national expert on fair housing and public accommodation issues. While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this policy to be stronger. And we will require everyone who uses our platform to read and certify that they will follow this policy.”
After a man named Gregory Selden brought a class-action lawsuit against the site for ignoring his complaints about a host who refused to rent to him because he’s black, the Twitter hashtag #AirBnbWhileBlack emerged. Tweets with the hashtag chronicle the frequent pattern of discrimination displayed by some Airbnb hosts. Airbnb has banished at least one host for sending racist and threatening messages to a black woman who had rented his property, and it banned another for LGBT discrimination.
Airbnb later hired Laura Murphy—formerly in charge of the ACLU’s Washington office—to help with anti-discrimination efforts and to undergo “a comprehensive review examining how hosts and guests interact with one another online and off and what can be done to make sure the platform can help make sure everyone is treated fairly.”
Since then, Airbnb has meet with civil rights leaders, and Chesky has talked about studying the design of the website “to see how we can create a more inclusive platform.”
Holder, meanwhile, was the country’s attorney general from 2009-15.
“I’m looking forward to working with Airbnb to develop and implement a world-class anti-discrimination policy,” Holder said in a statement, via Tech Crunch. “Airbnb is committed to building a community where everyone can belong, no matter who they are or what they look like. I’m eager to help them craft policies that will be the model for companies who share Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”