An Airbnb host who canceled a guest’s booking and made a racist comment has been fined $5000 and forced to attend a course on Asian-American studies. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) came to an agreement with the online hospitality service to dish out the punishment.
Tami Barker, who owns a mountain cabin in Big Bear, California, was set to rent the property to Asian-American law student Dyne Suh last February. But the pair had an argument over Suh's guests in the lead-up to the booking, and despite driving through a snowstorm to reach the cabin, Barker canceled minutes before they arrived for a skiing weekend.
“I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth,” she told Suh, via the Airbnb app. “One word says it all. Asian.”
When told she would be reported to Airbnb for her racist remarks, Barker replied with: "Go ahead. It's why we have Trump," adding: "I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners."
Speaking about the incident, Suh – a US citizen who has lived in the country for over 23 years – said: "No matter how well I treat others, it doesn’t matter. If you’re Asian, you’re less than human. People can treat you like trash.”
Months earlier, the DFEH came to an agreement with Airbnb that allows the agency to examine complaints of discrimination, something that has long plagued the rental platform. This is the first time it has been used to punish a host.
In addition to the fine and the college-level course enrollment, Barker must personally apologize to Suh, participate in a community education panel, volunteer with a civil rights organization, and report rental data to DFEH for four years. She has also been banned from Airbnb for life.