Booking.com cites hiring “complexities” for Iranian job withdrawals

Iran / Netherlands: Online travel agency Booking.com has revealed that it had to withdraw a “small number” of job offers that were made to prospective employees in Iran earlier this year due to “complexities” that it uncovered in its international hiring process.

STRz approached Booking.com for comment after Maede Rajabi posted the following on LinkedIn: “Booking.com rescinded my signed contract one day before my flight to Amsterdam and five days before my start date. It happened on September 9, 2022. Same scenario happened to other people from my country, Iran.”

Introducing the post as “A short story about racism in Booking.com”, Rajabi alleged that Booking.com did not respond to any of her emails after her contract was rescinded, and that the withdrawal of the offer was made because of “changes in business requirements” five days before her planned start date at the company.

A spokesperson from Booking.com indicated that the company had “unfortunately encountered challenges with mobility vendors being unable to effect the necessary part of the hiring and relocation process” and was “continuing to work to understand what we can do for those impacted”.

The spokesperson continued: “This is not a practice of discrimination against any individuals. We are incredibly proud of our very diverse workforce and the many Iranian employees who contribute to the fabric of our company.”

Though the reason for the “complexities” around the hiring and relocation process was unclear, there were suggestions on social media that Iranians could have been affected by changes to European regulations or possible sanctions from Europe, however this has not been substantiated.

Last month, Gergely Orosz, the author of a technology newsletter called The Pragmatic Newsletter, suggested on Twitter that Booking.com in Amsterdam had rescinded signed offers from software engineers with a citizenship from “Iran, Syria, Cuba and a few other US sanctioned countries”, and that the jobs would have been through a US subsidiary that may have required a special visa for employees to work and live in the country.