An Airbnb host based in California has been fined $US5,000 for abruptly cancelling on a guest because she was ‘Asian’.
Host, Tami Barker, told her guest Dyne Suh in a text message: “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth (sic).”
“One word says it all. Asian,” Ms Barker said.
As part of her punishment Ms Barker has agreed to participate in a course on Asian-American Studies, issue a personal apology to Ms Suh and volunteer at a civil rights organisation.
She has also been banned from hosting her property on Airbnb.
Discrimination in California under civil rights laws comes with a $US4,000 minimum fine.
Here in Western Australia, race discrimination is also unlawful in the area of goods and services and accommodation.
This may include long term rental properties and short-term rental properties like those on Airbnb.
“Race discrimination in the private rental sector certainly still occurs in Western Australia.
“However, most complaints of this nature are conciliated at the Commission before reaching the State Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) where compensation can be ordered,” Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne said.
In 2010 the Tribunal ordered property owner Anna Chan to pay a total sum of $3,000 to Violet Pickett and her son Trevor Pickett after it found Ms Chan had lied about the availability of her property because she did not want to rent it to Aboriginal people.
“The Tribunal ordered Ms Chan to pay Ms Pickett and her son as compensation for the hurt and humiliation they suffered due to Ms Chan’s discrimination,” Dr Byrne said.
He said discrimination was not only hurtful to those being discriminated against, it was also bad business for those doing the discriminating.
“In the case of the Airbnb host, the costs of discrimination may be greater than the $US5,000 fine as her ban from Airbnb means she can longer rent her property through the popular platform,” he said.
Read more about the Airbnb case here.