University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Selden v. Airbnb, Inc. FH-DC-0014
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-00933-CRC ( D.D.C. )
Additional Docket(s) 16-07139  [ 16-7139 ]
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Public Accomm./Contracting
Case Summary
On May 17, 2016, an African American man whose request for accommodations through Airbnb was rejected because of his race, brought this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He sued Airbnb under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, ... read more >
On May 17, 2016, an African American man whose request for accommodations through Airbnb was rejected because of his race, brought this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He sued Airbnb under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981, alleging that he, and all others similarly situated, had been injured by the pertinent discriminatory acts or practices committed by Airbnb's host agents, representatives, and servants. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that while planning a trip to Philadelphia, PA, he tried to use the housing accommodation service known as Airbnb but was told by an agent of Airbnb that the accommodation he was interested in was no longer available. However, the plaintiff soon found out that the accommodation was in fact still available, and after creating two fake accounts, one of a black man and one of a white man, he found that the Airbnb host only offered the accommodation to the white individual.

Represented by Emejuru & Nyomnbi L.L.C., the plaintiff asked for judgment and damages including compensatory, statutory, and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees. On May 20, 2016, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint that also alleged a violation of the Fair Housing Act.

On July 13, 2016, the defendant filed a motion to compel arbitration and dismiss the case. In a November 1, 2016 opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper found that the plaintiff had entered into a valid and enforceable arbitration agreement with Airbnb, and therefore granted Airbnb's motion to compel arbitration and stay the case. On November 7, 2016, the plaintiff filed a motion for certification for interlocutory appeal, which the court denied on December 19. On February 2, 2017, the Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, and subsequently denied rehearing en banc. The plaintiff then appealed to the Supreme Court, which denied certiorari on October 2, 2017.

Arbitration continued for nearly two years. On May 30, 2019, the arbitrator granted the defendant's motion for summary judgement in full. The arbitrator said that the most troubling piece of the case was the defendant's requirement that potential renters submit a picture of themselves before renting. But because the defendant had ended this practice, the arbitrator found the case moot.

The plaintiff moved to vacate arbitration due to this claimed overstep by the arbitrator. Claiming that the plaintiff "has not shouldered the heavy burden required to vacate an arbitration decision", the judge denied the motion on Nov 27, 2019. The court found that the plaintiff did not request the depositions of Airbnb representatives in a timely manner; therefore, the arbitrator did not unreasonably deny a timely request for depositions. Even if he did, claimed the court, the plaintiff did not not met his burden to establish grounds to vacate the arbitrator's decision.

The plaintiff appealed this decision to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on December 24, 2019. This case is ongoing.

Saeeda Joseph-Charles - 12/17/2016
Virginia Weeks - 02/22/2018
Maddie McFee - 06/03/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Housing
Racial profiling
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
Defendant(s) Airbnb, Inc.
Plaintiff Description An African American man whose request for accommodations through Airbnb was rejected, because of his race, on his behalf and on behalf of all others similarly situated
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 05/17/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  The Origins of Fair Lending Litigation
Date: Dec. 4, 2008
By: Andrew Nash (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D.D.C. 1:16-cv-00933-CRC
FH-DC-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.D.C.
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
FH-DC-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
Amended Complaint [ECF# 6]
FH-DC-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2016
D.D.C.
Memorandum Opinion [Granting Defendant's Motion to Compel Arbitration] (2016 WL 6476934)
FH-DC-0014-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/01/2016
D.D.C.
Plaintiff Gregory Selden's Motion to Vacate Arbitration Award Pursuant to Section 10 of the Federal Arbitration Act [ECF# 43]
FH-DC-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D.D.C.
Opinion and Order [ECF# 48]
FH-DC-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/27/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cooper, Christopher Reid (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-0004 | FH-DC-0014-0006 | FH-DC-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Emejuru, Ikechukwu (Maryland) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-0001 | FH-DC-0014-0003 | FH-DC-0014-0005 | FH-DC-0014-9000
Nyombi, Andrew (Maryland) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-0001 | FH-DC-0014-0005 | FH-DC-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kennedy, Ellen S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-9000
Kisloff, Michelle A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-9000
Marotta, Sean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-9000
Welborn, Kaitlin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-DC-0014-9000

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