Diversity

Racist Airbnb host hit with $5,000 fine & pointedly fitting punishments

By Kitty Knowles 14 July 2017
Summary

We hope the offender enjoys volunteering for better civil-rights.

Airbnb’s uphill battle against racism is no secret.

As Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky admitted last year: “We were late to this issue.”

“There are racists in the world and we need to have zero tolerance.”

Now, having laid out a plan to stamp it out discrimination, bigots are actually being held to account.

Not only has one woman been ordered to pay out a $5,000 fine for her racist behaviour, she’s been given some other fantastically poignant punishments to boot.

Disgusting behaviour

In February this year, Tami Barker cancelled on an Asian guest, Dyne Suh, because of her race.

The Airbnb host said she would “not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners”, and denied giving Suh permission to bring friends and dogs (despite Suh’s screenshots proving she had).

Barker told Suh in a text message: “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth.”

“One word says it all. Asian.”

Punishment

As you’d hope, Barker is now banned from Airbnb for life.

But Airbnb’s partner, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), has also dolled out other punishments that aptly fit the crime.

Barker must not only issue an apology to Suh and comply with anti-discrimination laws, but complete a course on Asian-American studies, and volunteer at a civil-rights organisation.

She must also report rental data for a period of four years, states the DFEH.

A better future?

Discrimination in California under civil rights laws comes with a $4,000 minimum fine, and it’s great to see more than ‘the minimum’ being delivered.

But while the fine will hopefully deter other from embarking in discriminatory behaviour, it’s great to see actual education (through either courses or charities) being legally enforced.

After all, a fine won’t stop a small-minded racist being a small-minded racist. But education might actually change their mindset for the long-term, stopping racist behaviour in the future.

More to be done

There is quite evidently, a long way to go before Airbnb – or society – is free from racism.

But one inspiring way Airbnb is taking action is through a partnership with the DFEH.

Through the department’s undercover staff will apply to Airbnb homes to identify those who display racist behaviour before they cause innocent travellers emotional harm.

Defending Barker, attorney Edward Lee said in a statement that “Miss Barker is pleased to have resolved her claims … in a manner that can hopefully bring a positive outcome.”

Here’s to working towards a positive outcome for everyone.

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