Airbnb drops sexual harassment and assault arbitration rules for guests and hosts

The company made a similar change for its employees in 2018.

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The Airbnb logo is seen on a little mini pyramid under the glass Pyramid of the Louvre museum in Paris, France, March 12, 2019. Airbnb and the Louvre museum will offer the chance to spend a night in the Louvre museum on April 30 where a contest winner with a guest will have an aperitif in front of the painting "Mona Lisa" (La Joconde) by Leonardo Da Vinci, a dinner in front of the Venus de Milo statue during a private visit and finally sleep in their own little mini pyramid under the glass Pyramid. Picture taken March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Charles Platiau / Reuters

Airbnb will update its terms of service to drop arbitration provisions for sexual assault or harassment claims by guests or hosts. The company expects the updated terms to be ready this fall.

"We believe that survivors should be able to bring claims in whatever forum is best for them," Airbnb wrote in a blog post. "We encourage our industry peers within the travel and hospitality space to consider taking similar steps for their respective communities."

The move will formalize Airbnb's current approach to such cases, which it adopted in January 2019. The company hasn't asked a court to force sexual assault or harassment claims by hosts or guests into arbitration since then. Nor will it do so until the updated terms of service are in effect.

"Incidents of sexual assault are extremely rare on Airbnb, but in these rare cases, Airbnb’s highly-trained Safety team works with survivors to put their wellbeing first," the company said. According to the blog post, members of its safety team have "undergone training in trauma-informed methodology and they prioritize supporting and empowering survivors in their healing process."

Airbnb didn't say whether it plans to change its arbitration rules for other types of harassment. It ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault claims by employees in late 2018. Other notable tech companies ditched forced arbitration for sexual assault and/or harassment claims around that time, including Uber, Lyft, Google and Square.

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