Friday, 28 July, 2017

Airbnb Host Fined $5K for Canceling SF Woman's Reservation Based on Race

Airbnb host ordered to pay $5,000 fine after cancelling trip via text for being Asian Airbnb host fined $5,000 for canceling a reservation with a racist comment
Frank Williams | 14 July, 2017, 08:09

An Airbnb host has been fined $5,000 for racial discrimination and will have to take a course in Asian-American studies after canceling a woman's reservation because of her ethnicity, reports The GuardianIt's the first time an Airbnb host has been penalized after California regulators passed an agreement that allows officials to test Airbnb hosts for racial discrimination earlier this year. The reservation had been booked a month in advance and Suh had been in contact with her host, Tami Barker, to ask a few questions about the stay. "I beg for people to think about if such discrimination can happen to a light-skinned cis East Asian woman who is in law school, middle class, in a heterosexual relationship, able-bodied, is a US citizen, and Christian, how much harder it must be for people who are less-advantaged and please stand with them".

In an interview with the BBC a year ago, AirBnB co-founder Brian Chesky said: "We started this company with the belief people are fundamentally good". I believe that the more people learn about and understand our history and our struggles, the more they can feel empathy towards us and treat us as equals. "I've been here since I was 3 years old,"a tearful Suh said".

The host, Tami Barker, said it was because Suh was going to have additional guests.

The fine and demand to attend a course, as well as community service with a civil rights organisation, marked the first time the landmark agreement has been used to punish an AirBnB host.

After the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack sparked a 10-month-long investigation back in 2016 over hosts refusing to rent their properties to people of color, the home sharing economy allowed DFEH to regulate it for racial bias.

"We were thinking pretty creatively with this agreement", Kevin Kish, the director of DFEH, told The Guardian.

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"We want there to be strong anti-discrimination protections and preventions of harm, but we recognize that the world isn't divided into good guys and bad guys".

Suh, her fiancé and two friends had driven four hours and were just minutes away from the home when she claims Barker denied ever agreeing to extra guests and canceled the reservation. "People thought: 'Oh, with the election of President Obama racism is over in this country.' No".

DFEH's chief counsel, Jon Ichinaga, made it plain that while racism may be endemic in many parts of the U.S., in California it is against the law. "If you're Asian, you're less than human and people can treat you like trash", Suh went on. "But we're willing to be creative".

According to the Guardian, a lawyer for Ms Barker said she regretted her behaviour, and that the DFEH's action will hopefully be a "positive outcome out of an unfortunate incident". Asian", and "It's why we have trump.

Reached Thursday by The Post, a spokesperson for Airbnb referred to the company's statement released in April.

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