A particularly racist Airbnb host has learned that her malicious actions in fact do have consequences. Tami Barker’s mountain cabin in Big Bear California looked like the perfect weekend getaway in February for Dyne Suh, a 26-year old law clerk and her fiancée. When Suh asked if she could bring two more friends and their pets to stay with her as well, Baker said she would allow it, for an extra fee.
Located in the San Bernadino Mountains, Big Bear was pelted with precipitous rain and snow. There were even flash flood warnings.
But when Suh and her party were mere minutes from reaching their destination–after hours of driving in the inclement weather–Barker turned them away. As they were about to arrive, Suh says she reached out to Barker to clarify the arrangement of their extra guests–how much extra she needed to pay, whether cash would be okay, etc–the host suddenly reneged on the earlier deal she had made, and told the group they were not allowed to stay. Although Suh had screenshots of Barker approving the extra guests, Barker maintained that “if you think 4 people and 2 dogs are getting a room fir [sic] $50 a night on Big Bear Mountain during the busiest night of the year…you are insanely high.”
There was also initially contention on whether the dogs could stay (on the Airbnb ‘house rules’ it said pets would be ‘considered’), although Barker eventually agreed.
Then Barker unleashed the very definition of a discriminatory answer: “I wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth. One word says it all. Asian.”
With tears in her eyes, Suh recorded a vulnerable video in the freezing rain, saying “I just feel so hurt. People thought: ‘Oh, with the election of President Obama racism is over in this country.’ No, it’s very much alive, it exists and it could happen to anyone.”
She concluded the video by saying: “It stings that after living in the US for over 23 years this is what happens. No matter if I follow the law … no matter how well I treat others, it doesn’t matter. If you’re Asian, you’re less than human and people can treat you like trash.”
Fortunately for Suh, California’s anti-discrimination laws have her back, and Barker provided clear evidence that this was a hateful, racially motivated action. Airbnb investigated the issue and immediately banned Barker from using the service. Suh also filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. CDFEH ruled in her favor.
Barker was ordered to pay $5,000 in damages to Suh. She must also attend a college course in Asian American studies, personally apologize to her, perform community service with a a civil rights organization, participate in an education panel on discrimination, and uphold anti-discriminatory laws from now on. Barker’s lawyer claimed on her behalf that she was “regretful for her impetuous actions and comments” but pleased to have resolved the matter with Suh and the DFEH “in a manner that can hopefully bring a positive outcome out of an unfortunate incident.”
Suh’s case was the first Airbnb incident to be successfully arbitrated by CDFEH. Airbnb formed a coalition with the government organization after rampant reports of discrimination and racism.
Edit: We’ve updated the article to include screenshots and clarification of Barker and Suh’s conversations.
Via: The Guardian