Home-sharing service Airbnb got some negative press this week with reports suggesting that a number of users have faced racial discrimination when attempting to use the service. In one particular incident, a North Carolina homeowner used a racial epithet in denying a rental request he had initially accepted, saying he initially thought the request came from the other person in the user’s profile picture.
The reports prompted CEO Brian Chesky to tweet: “The incident in NC was disturbing and unacceptable. Racism and discrimination have no place on Airbnb. We have permanently banned this host.”
Harvard University researchers also found pervasive racial discrimination among Airbnb users in a study published in January.
Fellow “sharing economy” site Uber has positioned itself as an alternative to discrimination on the part of taxi drivers. But Uber has faced controversy—and high-profile lawsuits—over its labor practices, avoiding overtime and minimum wage laws by classifying its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
Uber and Airbnb have positioned themselves not as service providers but as Internet platforms for connecting service providers with customers. Broad-based legal immunity for Internet platforms acting as publishers is undoubtedly an important consideration in that positioning.
But it’s unclear how longstanding consumer protection doctrines providing heightened protection for users of common carriers or places of public accommodation mesh with that broad-based immunity—just as courts are struggling with how to match older labor and employment law with newer work arrangements in the sharing economy.
Banning individual users from sites is a step, but Airbnb and other sharing economy sites, sooner rather than later, will have to be part of a broader public policy conversation about how longstanding rules concerning risk allocation and corporate accountability apply to companies providing traditional services in innovative ways.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)