Services & SoftwareTechnology

Airbnb to end arbitration in sexual assault cases for hosts, guests


Angela Lang/CNET

Airbnb on Friday said the arbitration provisions in its terms of service will no longer apply to sexual assault and sexual harassment claims made by hosts and guests. In an update to its terms, the short-term rental company will codify a practice that it says has been in place sine 2019. 

“Since January 2019, we have not asked a court to force any of the very few cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment claims by Hosts or guests into arbitration,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We believe that survivors should be able to bring claims in whatever forum is best for them.”

Arbitration is a type of dispute resolution that takes place outside the traditional court system. Baked into a terms of service, it could prevent customers from taking complaints to court or joining class action lawsuits. In 2018, Airbnb committed to no longer requiring employees to use arbitration in cases involving sexual harassment. A handful of other tech companies have also began to move away from the process.

Airbnb expects its updated terms of service to be ready in the fall. Until then, the company said it will continue to not enforce arbitration in cases related to sexual assault and harassment. 

A Bloomberg report earlier this year raised some safety concerns about the platform, saying the company pays out millions each year to clean up some of the worst incidents — including sexual assaults and murders — that take place at rentals listed on Airbnb. The company has said most of its payouts are related to property damage protection program for hosts. 

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