A class-action lawsuit filed Monday in Multnomah County Circuit court alleges that Airbnb discriminates against black Oregonians seeking to rent a room for the night.
The company's policies allow hosts to refuse to rent to anyone without a photo or a name if they so choose. They also allow hosts to screen based on names and photos if those are provided.
Lawyers asked Airbnb on behalf of the plaintiff, Patricia Harrington, to change its policies and were rebuffed, according to the legal filings.
"Laws were enacted decades ago to prohibit discrimination in public accommodations," Josh Ross, a Stoll Berne attorney who filed the suit, said in a statement.
"If the public learned that a major hotel chain would not allow guests to book rooms online without the hotel first looking at the guest's photograph and full name, there would be outrage. In many ways, the new shared economy allows discrimination to continue in a somewhat hidden manner, but the same rules apply."
Airbnb didn't immediately respond to WW's requests for comment.
While Airbnb allows individuals to rent out rooms in their homes, the company overall has more than 2 million rooms available worldwide, while Marriott had 800,000 in 2015, the suit notes.
Discrimination on the Airbnb website has been a national trend.
A Harvard Business School study that found guests with names that sounded distinctively African-American were 16 percent less likely get bookings they requested than identical prospective guests with white names, the suit notes.
Last year, the company apologized for failing to address problems with discrimination more quickly and changed its policies requiring hosts to agree to a nondiscrimination policy as of Nov. 1.
The company also said it was hiring a anti-discrimination team to analyze data and ensure hosts were living up to that standard.