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Airbnb host penalized for canceling Asian woman's reservation

And California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing got creative with the penalty.

California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing is cracking down on racial discrimination by Airbnb hosts. 
Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images

An Airbnb host who canceled a woman's reservation because she was Asian is being taught a lesson -- literally.

In addition to paying $5,000 in damages, Tami Barker will have to take a college-level course in Asian-American studies, according to the Guardian.

The penalty comes from California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing, which entered a voluntary agreement with Airbnb in April that allowed the DFEH to test for racial discrimination among hosts in the state and penalize those who discriminate.

Airbnb referred back to a statement from April saying, "This behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable. We have worked to provide the guest with our full support and in line with our non-discrimination policy, this host has been permanently removed from the Airbnb platform." 

DFEH Director Kevin Kish told the Guardian, "We were thinking pretty creatively with this agreement," adding, "We're interested in remedies that repair harm and transform relationships."

On top of the class and the fine, Barker will have to make an apology and volunteer with a civil rights organization, among other things. 

In a separate statement, Kish said that the complainant was not motivated by money. "Under California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, the statutory minimum is $4000 for each offense," he said. "We arrived at the monetary award in negotiations and in light of all the factors involved in this case, including extraordinary non-monetary remedies."

Update, 12:13 p.m. PT: Adds comments from Airbnb and DFEH.