Airbnb sued for allegedly ignoring racial discrimination on its site

A racism problem for Airbnb?
A racism problem for Airbnb?
Airbnb sued for ignoring racial discrimination
Airbnb sued for ignoring racial discrimination

Airbnb was slapped with a lawsuit on Tuesday after an African-American user claimed that he was racially discriminated against on the booking site and his complaints were ignored by the company.

Gregory Selden alleges that he attempted to book a listing on the popular lodging site in March 2015 and was denied by the host because of his race. He reportedly reapplied for the for the space using two fake Airbnb accounts with photographs of white men as the profile pictures. Both accounts were purportedly accepted by the renter.

He contacted Airbnb, but received no immediate response, according to the lawsuit filed by law firm Emejuru and Nyombi of Silver Spring, Maryland.

"While we do not comment on pending litigation, we strongly believe that racial discrimination is unacceptable and it flies in the face of our mission to bring people together," Nick Papas, director of public affairs for Airbnb, told CNBC. "We prohibit content that promotes discrimination, bigotry, racism, hatred, harassment or harm against any individual or group and we are taking aggressive action to fight discrimination and eliminate unconscious bias in our community."

Selden is suing Airbnb on behalf of "others similarly situated" whose rights, the lawsuit says, were violated under the Civil Rights and Fair Housing Acts. His lawyers have requested a trial by jury.

Representatives for Emejuru and Nyombi did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

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Selden shared his story on Twitter, adopting the viral hashtag #AirBnbWhileBlack. It sparked thousands of social media users to post using the hashtag.

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