'Do You Belong Here?': Lawsuits Allege Hotels Discriminated Against Black Guests
Photo Credit: Canva

Photo Credit: Canva

'Do You Belong Here?': Lawsuits Allege Hotels Discriminated Against Black Guests

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Parker Diakite
Parker Diakite Jul 29, 2020

When Albert Law checked into the Hilton Richmond Downtown in Virginia,  a security guard approached him and asked him, “Do you belong here?” and demanded to see his room key and identification.

Law was the only Black person seated in the lobby where several other white people were seated as well.  None of them were asked the same question.

“It’s a level of humiliation you can never get out of your head,” said Law, a software executive from the Atlanta suburbs who had come to the hotel for a law enforcement administrators conference in March 2018.

Law is joining several other Black people who are filing lawsuits alleging discrimination at hotels where they were visitors or registered guests.  In some of the incidents, the hotel staff called the police.

The lawsuits involve Hilton, Marriott, and Choice Hotels.

“Hilton invites unbridled discrimination by encouraging hotel staff to confront persons in public areas and demand that they prove their right to be there,” said Jason Kafoury, an attorney in Portland, Oregon, who is handling the Law case and others, all involving Black plaintiffs. “When guests take offense at being singled out, police are called.”

Meanwhile, Hilton said it has a zero-tolerance policy against racism or discrimination. “We expect all guest engagement, including when and how a guest may be approached, to be completely free of bias,” spokesman Nigel Glennie said in a statement.

Earlier this year, a Black woman posted a video of two police officers and a white hotel employee confronting her as her two children played in the swimming pool at a Hampton Inn in Williamston, North Carolina.

The hotel staff demanded that she prove that she was staying at the hotel.

“I feel it’s discrimination. I have a room here,” the woman said, holding up her room key. 

The global head of Hampton told USA Today the hotel employee who singled out the woman is no longer employed by the hotel.

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