An Airbnb host who made a racist remark when cancelling a guest’s reservation must pay $5,000 (£3,850) compensation and complete a university-level course in Asian American studies.
Tami Barker, from California, must also apologise to the guest, volunteer with a civil rights organisation and “appear in a public education event.”
Barker rented her cabin in Big Bear Lake, a popular ski destination in California, through Airbnb. She cancelled a guest’s booking on 17 February, saying she refused to rent to Asians.
Law student Dyne Suh, had reserved the cabin in February for herself, her boyfriend and two friends, but was told by Barker minutes before their arrival that, “I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth,” she wrote in a text. “One word says it all. Asian.”
“It’s why we have Trump,” she added. “I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.”
Suh – a US citizen who has been in the country since the age of three – posted a tearful video to YouTube showing her standing in the snow describing what had happened. Airbnb banned Barker from the site, calling her actions “abhorrent and unacceptable.” The company then pursued her under a landmark agreement with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which allows the DFEH to take action against hosts displaying racial bias. Barker is the first host to be penalised for discrimination.
DFEH Chief Counsel Jon Ichinaga said in the ruling:
“There is a monetary cost to discriminating in California: a $4,000 minimum penalty for discrimination in places of public accommodation, which the Department will seek in all appropriate cases.” He praised Suh for her courage in making the complaint.
Racial discrimination from hosts has been a repeated problem for Airbnb, with multiple guests from ethnic minorities reporting that their reservations are turned down for no apparent reason. This week, a South African guest was pushed down the stairs by her Airbnb host in a row over a late check-out.
In March 2016, the company hired former Peace Corps director David King as its first Director of Diversity and Belonging.