Airbnb drops sexual assault arbitration rules for guests, hosts

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San Francisco, Aug 14 (IANS) Online vacation rental company Airbnb has announced that it will update its terms of service to drop arbitration provisions for sexual assault or harassment claims made by the guests or hosts.

“We are announcing that arbitration provisions will no longer apply to sexual assault or sexual harassment claims by hosts or guests in the next iteration of Airbnb’s Terms of Service,” the company said in a blogpost.

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“This aligns with a commitment we made in late 2018 to no longer require Airbnb employees to use arbitration in cases involving sexual harassment,” it added.

The company said that this upcoming change in terms will codify a practice they have already had in place.

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Since January 2019, the company has 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.

“Until the next update to our terms is launched, we will continue not to enforce our arbitration provisions as they relate to these cases. We currently expect this update to the terms to be ready in the Fall,” the company said.

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“We believe that survivors should be able to bring claims in whatever forum is best for them. We encourage our industry peers within the travel and hospitality space to consider taking similar steps for their respective communities,” it added.

According to the company, incidents of sexual assault are extremely rare on Airbnb, but in these rare cases, Airbnb’s highly-trained safety team works with the survivors to put their wellbeing first.

This team has undergone training in trauma-informed methodology and it prioritises supporting and empowering the survivors in their healing process.

Many of Airbnb’s community safety policies and workflows were informed by the counsel of expert organisations, such as Vital Voices.

“Our goal is to make Airbnb the safest and most trusted way to travel. Paramount to building trust is doing the right thing in the rare instances where things go wrong,” the company said.

“We will continue investing in the right people, systems and policies to prioritise safety on our platform and within the communities we serve,” it added.



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