Wednesday 13 November 2019

Airbnb host who cancelled reservation over race fined

AirBnb Photo: Getty
AirBnb Photo: Getty

Michael Balsamo

An Airbnb host who cancelled a reservation and told the guest, "One word says it all. Asian," has agreed to pay a fine and attend a college course in Asian-American studies, California state officials said.

The guest, Dyne Suh, had booked the home as part of a ski trip with her fiance and friends in Big Bear in February.

When she was close to the house, Ms Suh messaged host Tami Barker through the Airbnb app, but the host cancelled the reservation after a dispute over additional guests.

Ms Barker told Ms Suh in a series of messages that she would not rent to her if she were the last person on Earth.

"One word says it all. Asian," one of the messages said.

When Ms Suh told Ms Barker that she would complain to Airbnb, Ms Barker wrote, "It's why we have Trump... I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners."

Ms Suh, who posted an emotional video about the incident on YouTube, has said she had agreed to pay $250 per night to rent the home and later asked Ms Barker if two other friends could also stay at the house, which Ms Barker agreed to.

Ms Suh sent Barker screenshots of text messages where she agreed to the additional guests, but Ms Barker cancelled the reservation.

As part of an agreement with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, Ms Barker agreed to pay a $5,000 fine, personally apologise to Ms Suh and perform community service at a civil rights organisation.

A message left at a number listed for Ms Barker was not immediately returned. Her attorney, Edward Lee, said his client was "regretful for her impetuous actions and comments" and is pleased to have resolved the matter.

Ms Suh said in a statement posted on Facebook that she was pleased the settlement included Ms Barker's agreement to attend an Asian-American studies course and hoped the settlement would encourage others to report discrimination.

"I hope that more victims of discrimination will feel encouraged to come forward with their own stories," Ms Suh wrote. "Your pain is not insignificant and you are not alone."

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