July 13 (UPI) — California officials on Thursday levied a $5,000 judgment against an Airbnb host who refused to rent to an Asian woman because of her race.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing also required the woman, Tami Barker, to apologize to the would-be renter, Dyne Suh, and complete a college-level course in Asian-American history.
The incident gained wide public attention when a tearful Suh posted a video on YouTube explaining her interaction with Barker. Suh, a UCLA law student, was driving with friends to the Big Bear ski cabin Barker owns at 3 a.m. in a snowstorm in February when she received the messages. Barker had initially agreed to rent the cabin to Suh and her friends, then reneged. During the video, Suh showed text messages sent through the Airbnb app where Barker said, “I will not allow this country to be told what to do by foreigners.”
“It’s why we have Trump,” she said in another message, referring to President Donald Trump.
In the video, Suh said she immigrated to the United States as a child and is a naturalized citizen.
“I’ve been here since I was 3 years old,” she said. “America is my home. I consider myself an American. But this woman discriminates against me because I’m Asian.
“It stings. It stings that, after living in this country for more than 23 years, this is what happens.”
Regulators with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing said the $5,000 fine, which Barker must pay to Suh for the damages inflicted, was in line with other judgments in housing discrimination cases.
Barker’s lawyer released a statement on her behalf after the ruling was announced.
“While regretful for her impetuous actions and comments made on the evening of Feb. 17, 2017, Miss Barker is pleased to have resolved her claims with Miss Dyne Suh and the DFEH in a manner that can hopefully bring a positive outcome out of an unfortunate incident.”
The incident represents the first time California regulators have fined an Airbnb host for discriminatory rental practices, officials said.