Motel 6 Agrees To Pay $7.6 Million Settlement For Sending Guest Lists To ICE

from the come-for-the-limited-amenities!-stay-for-the-unprovoked-roustings! dept

Motel 6 franchise owners suddenly decided it was their job to play part-time cop/immigration officer and use their paying customers as grist for the laughably-named criminal justice system. One branch began faxing guest lists to the local PD without any prompting from the recipient agency. Another decided anyone who didn’t look American (guess what that means) should be reported to ICE.

This drew the attention of the internet. It also drew the attention of the Washington state attorney general. Finally, it drew the attention of the federal court system, but not for the reasons these self-appointed posse members expected. The chain was hit with a class action lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to the unprompted reporting of Hispanic guests to ICE.

This is going to cost the motel chain some of its light money, as Reuters reports.

Motel 6 will pay up to $7.6 million to Hispanic guests to settle a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that it violated their privacy by regularly providing guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

The chain (of course) admitted no liability nor agreed that it had engaged in unconstitutional activities. Instead, it mumbled something about “recognizing the seriousness of the situation” and that it would, at some point in the near future, respect the privacy of its guests.

The respect will be mandatory if the full settlement is approved by the court.

Motel 6 also agreed to a two-year consent decree barring it from sharing guest data with immigration authorities absent warrants, subpoenas, or threats of serious crime or harm.

I guess the feeling must be that two years of not screwing paying customers out of their privacy will result in the creation of good habits. That seems unlikely to have a permanent effect, so it would have been nice to see this consent decree govern the chain’s behavior in perpetuity, but you take what you can get.

This isn’t necessarily Motel 6’s fault — at least not at the corporate level. There’s no indication the chain’s owner, G6 Hospitality, ever instructed franchise operators to engage in these activities. These appear to have been initiatives specific to some Motel 6 locations in Arizona. They were uncovered by the Phoenix New Times’s examination of court records and confirmed by Motel 6 employees who said they “just pushed a button” to send guest lists to ICE.

These freelance ICE operative have screwed the Constitutional pooch so badly their parent company will be paying out the equivalent of ~110,000 overnight stays. Whatever discomfort they caused their guests will hopefully pale in comparison to the heat they’re feeling now.

The proposed order [PDF] is embedded below.

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Companies: motel 6

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Comments on “Motel 6 Agrees To Pay $7.6 Million Settlement For Sending Guest Lists To ICE”

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31 Comments
Christenson says:

Re: Racism at any cost

More than that, the local owner must have decided he didn’t want “Hispanic” types in his motels…

even if it meant selling fewer rooms
even if it meant the company paying out millions

If motel 6 is smart, they will drop the particular franchise owner before they get sued again for something else equally egregious.

B Ackwards says:

No problem with AG pressure for causes you like!

1) Motel 6 (or employee without corporate approval) has done nothing actionable.

2) Motel 6 HAS informed of criminals.

3) AG is violating Motel 6’s 1st Amendment and freedom of association.

4) It’s just cheaper, and usually you’d argue that such pressure to fight an expensive lawsuit is wrong.

But you left-liberal-globalists who favor unlimited immigration see nothing wrong when it’s for a cause that you favor.

Lower than hypocrites are masnocrits.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

Motel 6 (or employee without corporate approval) has done nothing actionable.

The employees who ratted on guests to I.C.E. may have made false reports of a person’s alleged criminality based only (or primarily) on the ethnicity of that person. I would definitely refer to “racial profiling with the intent to have Hispanic/Latinx people arrested because they happened to interact with a racist motel employee, possibly done with the consent and knowledge of management for both that motel and its parent company” as an “actionable” act.

Motel 6 HAS informed of criminals.

How do you know, with the absolute certainty available only to a omniscient deity, that every Hispanic/Latinx person reported by Motel 6 employees was a criminal?

AG is violating Motel 6’s 1st Amendment and freedom of association.

Motel 6 has every right to refuse associating with criminals. Now prove every Hispanic/Latinx person that was reported to I.C.E. was also a criminal, and prove it without relying on their ethnicity as the only (or primary) factor in your deductions, and I will gladly defend Motel 6 in this regard.

It’s just cheaper, and usually you’d argue that such pressure to fight an expensive lawsuit is wrong.

Motel 6 likely has more money than all the defendants combined. That a settlement occured tells me management did not want to risk a much larger judgment against the company and a finding of fault that could be entered into public records. A settlement here ensures a small(er) payout than if the company had lost in court and the company dodging the bullet of having responsibility for what its racist employees did foisted on management.

you left-liberal-globalists

Every time you use the word “globalist”, I have to wonder how much you hate Jewish people. Did you jerk yourself off when you heard about that recent synagogue shooting, by any chance?

who favor unlimited immigration

[citation needed]

(I personally favor a smarter and more compassionate immigration system that does not, say, tear children away from migrant families.)

see nothing wrong when it’s for a cause that you favor

…says the guy who is unironically defending Motel 6 employees for reporting people to I.C.E. based only (or primarily) on their ethnicity, likely without any other proof that the people in question are criminals.

cob3 says:

Re: AG pressure

@B Ackwards:

yeah, the formal legal case against MOTEL6-Corporate is very weak to non-existent.
What specific statute did MOTEL6 violate?

MOTEL6 wisely chose to settle out of court, avoiding a much more costly legal battle ans lots more bad publicity. State and Federal prosecutors do not actually need you to be guilty of any offense to convict you — they hold all the cards and rarely lose in court.

Tons of companies (especially online) share your personal info with whoever they feel like.
But there are always formal Terms-of-of-Service contracts in effect at U.S. motels/hotels and they are usually written in the motel’s favor. And cops routinely make informal, warrantless inquiries to hotels about hotel customers.

Prosecute the specific guilty employees under a specific statute.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: AG pressure

Missing the important point: If you are in court, you have lost, and noone in contact with the system is ever made whole.

As seen with Backpage (which in the end, does seem to have been doing things illegally) and Kim DotCom (still not convicted, how many years running now?), Motel 6 has decided its better to just pay and forget about it than endlessly fight an ongoing, distracting lawsuit and/or prosecutions which could bankrupt the company directly through the lawyers or indirectly through a combination of bad publicity and other bad management decisions.

Dan (profile) says:

"Unconstitutional"?

The chain (of course) admitted no liability nor agreed that it had engaged in unconstitutional activities.

Well, let’s see. Motel 6 is not the government. They aren’t part of the government. They weren’t acting on behalf of, or at the behest of, anyone in the government, as you yourself note. The Constitution, of course, regulates how the government operates. So in what possible way could the chain, any of its employees, or any of its franchisees have been doing anything unconstitutional?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: "Unconstitutional"?

It acted in the benefit of law enforcement. I am not sure what the legal term is, but when a private entity acts for law enforcement they have to follow the rules of law enforment, which is a government entity. This is not in question, and I suspect someone will point out the correct legal reference.

I remember, several decades ago, when some of our employees were doing drugs on our premise, that the cops involved took the employees inside for questioning. I took it upon myself to go around the parking lot and found their ‘equipment’ tucked under a car, but otherwise in plain site. I then pointed out to the cops where this stuff was. Had I known better, I would have done neither, but maybe suggested to the cops that they search the parking lot, and under cars.

I could have caused us, the hotel and my employers, a lot of trouble. Fortunately that did not happen.

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: "Unconstitutional"?

It doesn’t work that way. If I decide, on my own, to give information to the government, that doesn’t make me a state actor (it’s a completely different story if the government solicited it), and it certainly doesn’t mean I’m acting under color of law (that’s where I have, or appear to have, state authority, and act under that authority). Your action may (or may not) have violated the law, but it wasn’t unconstitutional.

Motel 6 was clearly in the wrong–any number of common-law torts, and no doubt statutory violations as well. But no, it wasn’t in any way unconstitutional.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Re: Unconstitutional... sort of

See City of Los Angeles v. Naranjibhai Patel, et al.13-1175

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/city-of-los-angeles-v-patel/

I spent about a $1,000 on motels last year, my wife and i drove on by Motel6 BASED on their actions. I’m certain the police can fill in their losses.

“The teen at the center of a Bay Area police sex scandal will receive $989,000 from the city of Oakland after her claims dredged up widespread alleged misconduct.

Jasmine, a 19-year-old also known as ‘Celeste Guap’ said she was sexually involved with dozens of officers from multiple police departments in the Bay Area, including some while she was underage.

Oakland began looking into the relationships after an officer killed himself in September, 2015 & mentioned sex in his suicide note.

In June 2016, three police chiefs stepped down one after the other in little more than a week, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf blasted the department as a “frat house.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "Unconstitutional"?

If you did something one time, perhaps you’re just a concerned citizen. But when you begin regularly providing information to the government, then, imho, yes you are now acting as part of the government.

Otherwise the government could easily slip through that loophole and we’d all become “watched”. Is it that hard to see that the result would be a country that looks a lot like the USSR where everyone was afraid of being apprehended based on neighbor informants?

Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "Unconstitutional"?

But when you begin regularly providing information to the government, then, imho, yes you are now acting as part of the government.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), your HO isn’t the state of the law. If a private citizen (individual or organization) decides, on their own, to provide information to the government, that doesn’t mean they’re "acting as part of the government"–regardless of whether it’s a single instance or a regular thing. What makes it (or can make it) government action is if the government solicited that information. If ICE, the local PD, or any other agency requested/demanded that information, then it can be considered government action.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'This is bad and you can't do it... for two years.'

Motel 6 also agreed to a two-year consent decree barring it from sharing guest data with immigration authorities absent warrants, subpoenas, or threats of serious crime or harm.

They were taken to court over the action, with the judge and prosecutor agreeing that they shouldn’t have done it, yet the consent degree specifically barring them from doing it only last two years? Will the actions in question magically become acceptable in two years, because otherwise I see no reason not to make that a permanent prohibition, making it clear it’s not acceptable even after two years have passed.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: A lot of double standards here

In my 50 years of watching southern California’s industry (6th or 9th largest in the world) REPUBLICANS are the ones that A) create ‘illegals’ and B) never fix immigration laws. For years, for the Party of Businessmen, these newly-minted ‘Criminals’ work cheap, don’t rat out dangerous working conditions and get up real early.
I was hired to upgrade 220vac electrics in a distressed jeans factory with exposed wiring, a pond (big enough for an SUV) full of cloth-sludge from a dozen huge washing machines and one to four inches of hot water flooding the floors. 20 brown people were running around, the dead or maimed might cost the employer $300 to the widow. The scene was right out of Lina Wertmuller’s ‘Seven Beauties’

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

The fact that you faced ICE is a problem caused by the person and NOT Motel 6.

If a Motel 6 employee told I.C.E. that a Hispanic man suspected of being an illegal immigrant was staying at a given Motel, but that Hispanic man was a legal citizen of the United States, how is the Hispanic man responsible for an issue caused by the Motel 6 employee being a racist snitch?

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Re:

My truck transmission was repaired by a man from ‘Mexico’ who spoke no Spanish. He had nothing to do with Hispaniola, nothing to do with Spain, nothing to do with Latin, Napoleonic codes or Aztecs. His family was always indigenous to California. Soon, his culture will be subsumed by the latest in correct and legal behavior and, like elephants, perhaps a single wax example will fill a diorama at the Natural History Museum.

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