Airbnb’s hosts and guests cannot use the service without signing a terms of service agreement that waives their right to sue or to join a class action lawsuit or arbitration against the company. As Airbnb comes under fire for racial discrimination by its hosts, this restriction is particularly significant: “Class actions are a strong tool in discrimination cases, as the significance of the number of participants reinforces the idea that a systemic ill is being promulgated,” the New York Times explains. “It is the kind of thing that has helped ease discrimination by hotels and real estate brokers—Airbnb’s old-economy counterparts.”
The viability of this legal agreement Airbnb makes with its users may soon be tested. Next month, the company must respond to a class-action discrimination suit filed against it that claims Airbnb violated housing discrimination laws when a host denied a user due to his race.