Rep. Johnson urges Airbnb to reconsider anti-consumer forced pre-dispute arbitration clauses

December 13, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law (RRCAL), which exercises jurisdiction over antitrust laws and competition, sent a letter to Airbnb’s CEO urging the short-term rental company to reconsider its use of pre-dispute, forced arbitration clauses and class-action waivers in their “terms of service” agreements in their contracts.

Airbnb came under fire this year after a Harvard University study determined that hosts using the site to rent properties are discriminating against consumers based upon race, age and gender. Despite the company’s attempts to address discrimination within the platform, Airbnb’s use of forced arbitration clauses prevents victims of discrimination from getting their day in court.

“These (arbitration) clauses operate to deprive consumers of their day in court, so that when companies clearly violate the law consumers are still unable to seek redress in public courts of law,” wrote Johnson, author of H.R. 2087, The Arbitration Fairness Act that would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights cases.

“While Airbnb has made strong, laudable commitments to prevent and address discrimination in all facets of Airbnb’s platform, more work needs to be done to end all discrimination and bias in the system. As the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law, which exercises jurisdiction over this issue, I look forward to working with Airbnb and other companies on this matter.”

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