An Airbnb host who was kicked off the platform earlier this year after she canceled on a guest for being Asian has been ordered to pay $5,000 in damages and take a college-level course in Asian American studies.
California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing announced the resolution Thursday. The former host, identified as Tami Barker, also issued a personal apology to her would-be guest, Dyne Suh, and will participate in a community education panel and do volunteer work at a civil rights organization.
Barker can take the Asian American studies course online, or in person, whichever she prefers, the department’s spokesperson Fahizah Alim told HuffPost. Alim noted this is the first time the state agency, which enforces California’s civil rights laws, has penalized an Airbnb host.
Suh filed a complaint to the department in April, about two months after Barker canceled Suh’s reservation made through the online company to stay at Barker’s property near Big Bear, California. The Airbnb host canceled just minutes before Suh and her other guests were scheduled to arrive.
Barker made no effort to conceal the reason for the cancellation, texting Suh after some back and forth: “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth.” She added, “One word says it all. Asian.”
Suh, stranded amid a snowstorm with her friends still in the car, tearfully recalled the interaction in a video posted to YouTube that proceeded to go viral.
“The four of us made a reservation on Airbnb about a month ago,” Suh explains in the video, snow falling around her, “and I asked the woman who is the host if two more friends would be OK ... she said that’s fine, we just have to pay more money.”
“So we’re driving up, we think everything is fine, we’re ready for this ski trip in Big Bear ... there were flash flood warnings all day, [and] I asked the woman again, is it OK if my two friends come, like, should we give you cash, or how much did you say it was again?” Suh continues.
“And she says, ‘Absolutely not ... You must be high if you think that that would be OK in the busiest weekend in Big Bear.’ Then she said, ‘No, we’re done,’ and she canceled the trip.”
Barker delivered her anti-Asian comment after Suh told her she would report the abrupt cancellation to Airbnb. After delivering the racist comments, Barker added, “I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners. It’s why we have trump.”
Suh noted in her video that she’s an American citizen.
In a followup Facebook post after the incident, Suh asked readers to consider the discrimination that others with even more marginalized identities face ― noting bigotry towards these groups often results in far more serious consequences than what she experienced.
“I only got discriminated against for lodging on a ski trip - other people have gotten murdered, or otherwise far more seriously harmed for their identities,” she wrote. “I beg for people to think about if such discrimination can happen to a light-skinned cis East Asian woman who is in law school, middle class, in a heterosexual relationship, able-bodied, is a U.S. citizen, and Christian, how much harder it must be for people who are less-advantaged and please stand with them.”