Airbnb Guest Claims Host Forced Her Out for Being a ‘Hot Girl’

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images/Courtesy of Keren Sita
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images/Courtesy of Keren Sita

An Airbnb guest alleges her “attractiveness” became too much to bear for her spiteful host, whom she claims essentially pushed her out the door over fears her publishing-exec-cum-alpaca-farmer husband would fall for her during her stay.

In an eye-popping federal lawsuit obtained by The Daily Beast, 23-year-old Keren Sita, an aspiring law student who was crowned 2017’s Miss Black Vermont, says Marcia Meinerth, 77, couldn’t handle having a “young hot Black girl” in the house, and made things increasingly miserable for her until she finally packed up and went elsewhere.

“The intensifying animosity” was solely “based on superficial attributes,” according to Sita’s complaint. Meinerth “appeared to project her frustrations and insecurities onto me… leading to tensions in our interactions,” the complaint states. “She treated me like I was going to steal her unattractive and old husband.”

Sita, who is representing herself in court, is demanding at least $700,000 for, among other things, discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

“From the very beginning, I could tell my beauty was a threat to her,” Sita told The Daily Beast on Monday. “... I’m a paralegal, but my dream is to be an attorney. My goal is to do bias discrimination. This case is about how the more beautiful you are, the more discriminated against you are. I think she was just surprised at how beautiful I was as a Black woman.”

Sita said that another guest staying in the same house at the time was not harassed at all.

“My whole life mission is to show that ‘pretty discrimination’ does exist—I’m trying to coin that term,” Sita explained. “When you are beautiful, when you are attractive, people treat you differently.”

In an email, Barry Meinerth declined to comment beyond saying that Sita’s lawsuit was previously dismissed in state court, after which Sita later refiled in federal court.

“Sita files 12 lawsuits a year, all frivolous,” Meinerth said. (Sita has filed numerous past lawsuits for, among other things, defamation over a Facebook post, an employment discrimination claim against the Five Guys burger chain, and a landlord-tenant dispute with a Vermont Econolodge. Most, if not all, have been dismissed.)

Airbnb did not respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The surreal situation can be traced back to January 15, 2021, when Sita booked a bedroom for a month-long stay in Marcia and Barry Meinerth’s Pawlet, Vermont, home, according to the complaint. Marcia was an Airbnb “superhost,” which Sita says gave her a modicum of comfort.

“I rented the space to find solace for drafting my law school personal statement, planning for LSAT exams, and coping with the loss of a dear friend,” the complaint states.

Sita rented the “Enjoy Life” bedroom, which the complaint says was advertised by the Meinerths as “ideal for solo travelers,” according to her complaint. It says she was sold on the “unique ‘rain shower’ bath,” noting that it appealed to her “for stress relief.” But when Sita arrived, Marcia informed her that she was moving her to a different room, with an en suite shower.

“When I inquired about the room change, Defendant MM expressed concerns about me traversing the property in a bathrobe or towel in front of her husband and other guests,” the complaint states, adding that “it was clear” that Marcia was nervous that “her husband would become sexually attracted to [me] because I was a young hot Black girl.”

Sita says she adheres to a “rigorous workout routine,” which she begins daily at 5 a.m. So as not to disturb the guest in the room below hers, Sita conducted her exercise sessions in the home’s first-floor sitting area, according to the complaint.

However, the complaint goes on, 77-year-old Barry Meinerth, a onetime company commander in the U.S. Army, “would frequently appear nearby” during her early-morning workouts, “observing me for extended periods.”

“Defendant BM’s behavior of closely monitoring my workouts raised concerns regarding boundaries and I began feeling unsafe because I could tell he was become [sic] sexual [sic] aroused while watching me workout [sic],” the complaint continues. “And as a twenty three year old girl I was not comfortable with a 60 plus old [sic] married man waking up early just to watch me work [sic].”

Barry’s “consistent monitoring” appeared to “detract from his responsibilities,” according to Sita, who claims he spent his time watching her instead of being outside, feeding and tending to his alpacas.

When Marcia saw that her husband was not with the herd, Sita says in the complaint that she would “began [sic] running around the [sic] looking for him only to find him in the laundry spying on me working out in my tight workout gear.”

“She would then begin yelling and bickering at him when she would catch him,” the complaint continues. “He [sic] actions and reactions during these incidents hinted at underlying tensions within their household dynamic.”

She also says her host complained about her hot water usage while showering, while other guests were allowed to use as much as they liked, that she was no longer provided clean bed linens, and that she was barred from using the kitchen to store and cook her own food. Marcia began to publicly humiliate and belittle Sita due to her “profound jealousy and animosity,” and questioned her intelligence, the complaint alleges.

Sita alleges Marcia entered her room when she was not there, snooped through her belongings, tampered with the organic food she bought, and “had a habit of adding water to [her] orange juice.” She further claims her room was purposely kept freezing cold during the frigid Vermont winter, as payback.

“[I]t is evident that Defendants MM and BM developed arguments due to the Plaintiffs presence and attractiveness,” according to the complaint. “Defendant MM was taking every measure to force the Plaintiff to leave the property, to the extent that it was impacting the Plaintiffs schooling.”

By this point, Sita says in her complaint that she had had enough, writing, “Having exhausted all other options, the Plaintiff was left with no choice bu [sic] to find a new place to stay in the interim.”

She then discovered Marcia had left her a negative review on the Airbnb website, allegedly writing, “It is, and has been, from the start of my Airbnb hosting experience, my absolute pleasure to write a review for the appreciative guests who graced my home, received a personal welcome and found solace here. I cannot say the same for this experience. I am very relieved that the reservation, with the professional assistance of Airbnb, was able to be ended earlier than scheduled. Whew! It’s over. Now I look forward to greeting my next guests and continuing with the convivial atmosphere at High View.”

According to Sita, the review was a “gross misrepresentation of the truth, falsely painting the Plaintiff as the problematic guest.” She contends this has subsequently damaged her “reputation and livelihood.”

For its part, according to Sita, Airbnb “failed to take the necessary steps to rectify the situation, despite the Plaintiffs reservation being backed by Airbnb Aircover, the company's comprehensive insurance policy.” She said she requested a refund but never got a dime.

“When I realized Airbnb wasn’t taking this seriously, I decided to file this lawsuit,” Sita told The Daily Beast.

Sita claims she was discriminated against, as “a young, Black, unmarried, Congolese American woman,” for which she is demanding $100,000; that Airbnb and the Meinerths breached their “warranty of habitability,” for which Sita is demanding $200,000; that she was libeled and defamed by Marcia’s bad review, for which she believes she deserves $100,000; intentional infliction of emotional distress, for which she wants $200,000; and invasion of privacy, which Sita claims is worth at least $100,000.

“I don’t know this woman, I never met her in my life [before this],” Sita said. “There were other Black girls who stayed there, but [being a] ‘hot Black girl’ is a totally different situation.”

The Meinerths have not yet filed a formal response to the allegations.

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