An Airbnb host has been fined $US5,000 for abruptly cancelling on an Asian guest, because of the guest’s race.
The host, Tami Barker, is now permanently barred from the home-sharing platform.
Barker abruptly cancelled on Dyne Suh, who had driven through a snowstorm to Barker’s Big Bear, California, cabin with friends, and her two dogs in February.
According to California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), 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 participate in a course on Asian-American studies, issue a personal apology to Suh, and comply with anti-discrimination laws, volunteer at a civil-rights organisation, and report rental data for a period of four years, the state housing department said in a press release.
Discrimination in California under civil rights laws comes with a $US4,000 minimum fine, according to the DFEH.
Airbnb recently partnered with DFEH for fair housing tests, in which undercover DFEH staff will now apply to Airbnb homes in California to undercover any racial discrimination — an ongoing problem for Airbnb.
Barker’s attorney Edward Lee said in a statement that “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.”
CEO Brian Chesky said of the discrimination problem among Airbnb hosts last year: “I think we were late to this issue. 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,”Chesky said, adding “There are racists in the world and we need to have zero tolerance.”
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