A host on the short-term accommodation rental app, Airbnb, has been ordered to pay $5,000 in fines after having canceled a woman's reservation and leaving a racist comment. The news comes almost a month after officials from several international cities met to set up a common plan to protect local businesses from being disrupted by Airbnb and other companies dealing in the so-called sharing economy.
The events occurred this February, when 26 year old law clerk Dyne Suh booked a mountain cabin in Big Bear, California. Suh had initially agreed to pay the host, Tami Barker, $250 per night to rent her mountain cabin for a skiing weekend. Suh subsequently requested permission to bring two friends and two dogs, and Barker agreed under the condition that Suh pay an extra $50 per night.
However, “minutes before" Suh and her friends arrived, Barker reportedly canceled the reservation, stating the following in a text: “I wouldn't’ rent it to u if u were the last person on earth,” and “One word says it all. Asian”.
Suh recounted Barker's comments in a YouTube video, stating that the host further qualified her comments by saying "This is why we have Trump, we can’t have foreigners tell us what to do". The YouTube video can be viewed below:
Of her experience, Suh stated the following:
Racism is very much alive. It exists. It can happen to anyone. There’s no balance to racism no matter what class you are, no matter what your education level, no matter if you’re an American citizen, what they see is that I’m Asian, what they see is my race, and this is how we get treated.
After receiving complaints from Suh, Airbnb and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) took action. Airbnb banned Barker from using its services, and the DFEH launched an investigation and acted as a mediator.
In the first penalty resulting from a regulatory agreement that Airbnb signed with the DFEH to protect against discrimination, Barker has been fined $5,000 and must also take a course in Asian-American studies. Barker's lawyer stated that she was “regretful for her impetuous actions".