An Airbnb host has been fined $5,000 for abruptly canceling on an Asian guest because of the guest’s race.
The host, Tami Barker, is now permanently barred from the home-sharing platform.
In February, Barker canceled on Dyne Suh, who had driven through a snowstorm to Barker’s cabin in Big Bear, California, with friends and two dogs.
According to California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Barker told Suh in a text message, “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth.
“One word says it all. Asian,” Barker said.
The Airbnb host said she would “not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners” and denied that she had given Suh permission to bring friends and dogs, despite Suh’s screenshots of messages from Barker initially approving the request.
As part of her punishment, Barker has agreed to take a course in Asian-American studies, issue a personal apology to Suh, comply with antidiscrimination laws, volunteer at a civil-rights organization, and report rental data for a period of four years, the state housing department said in a press release.
Under California’s civil-rights laws, discrimination in places of public accommodation comes with a $4,000 minimum fine, according to the DFEH.
Barker’s attorney, Edward Lee, said in a statement: “While regretful for her impetuous actions and comments made on the evening of Feb. 17, 2017, Miss Barker is pleased to have resolved her claims with Miss Dyne Suh and the DFEH in a manner that can hopefully bring a positive outcome out of an unfortunate incident.”
Airbnb recently partnered with DFEH for fair-housing tests, in which undercover DFEH staff apply to Airbnb homes in California with the aim of uncovering discrimination among hosts — an ongoing problem for Airbnb.
“I think we were late to this issue,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said last year. “We were so focused on an issue of trust and keeping people safe, responding to other people’s issues on trust and safety, that we took our eye off the ball.”
He added, “There are racists in the world, and we need to have zero tolerance.”