A former Airbnb host who canceled a guest’s reservation by texting her saying, “One word says it all. Asian,” has been fined $5,000 in damages and ordered to complete volunteer work.
Airbnb guest Dyne Suh, a student at the University of California, was driving to Tami Barker’s mountainous residence in February when she received a messaging saying her stay had been canceled.
In a message sent via the Airbnb mobile app, Barker told Suh that she “wouldn’t rent it to u if u were the last person on earth,” adding: “One word says it all. Asian,” according to a report by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Suh said she would report Barker for being racist and shared screenshots of their conversation on Facebook.
In an interview with KTLA in April, Suh said she “just froze” when she read the messages. She told the news organization that when she told Barker she would report her to Airbnb officials, the host replied: “It’s why we have Trump.”
Following the incident, Airbnb and the DFEH carried out an investigation, which led to Barker’s Airbnb account being terminated. The DFEH ordered Barker to personally apologize to Suh and agree to complete volunteer service with a civil rights organization and participate in a public education event, as well as pay $5,000 in damages.
“We commend Ms. Suh, who was motivated to file a complaint by a desire to encourage other victims of discrimination to step forward and stand against injustice,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish in a statement. “We are also heartened by the host’s willingness to embrace corrective measures that are forward-looking and restorative.”
In a statement published on Facebook, Suh said she hoped the incident would encourage more victims of discrimination “to come forward with their own stories, empowered now with the knowledge that government entities such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and other civil rights organizations will take our cases seriously.”
The statement added: “If we want racism and discrimination to end, we cannot keep suffering in silence, and we cannot stand idly by when it is happening to other people of color and other oppressed minority groups. We are in this together.”