A black man has sued DoubleTree hotels for $10 million after he was kicked out of one of the chain’s Oregon locations — where he was a paying guest — all because he was making a phone call in the lobby, according to a report.
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Jermaine Massey, a 35-year-old Microsoft employee, sued the hotel chain, which is owned by Hilton, through his attorneys on Tuesday, claiming he was given the boot for “calling his mother while black,” The Oregonian/OregonLive.com reported.
Massey was a guest at a Portland DoubleTree on Dec. 22, 2018 when a security guard allegedly approached him while he was sitting in the lobby, taking a call regarding a “family emergency,” he said in the video, which was obtained by OregonLive.com. The guard questioned him about who he was and what his room number was.
He responded by telling the guard he was a guest – and even showing hotel security and a manager his room card envelope – and started recording cell phone video of the confrontation.
“This guy’s harassing me,” Massey says on the video. “...Do you really want this PR issue…?”
The guard responded by explaining that police were on the way to remove Massey from the property.
“Because what ... I’m staying here?” Massey asks, according to the outlet.
The guard responded: “Not anymore.”
Hotel staff later escorted to his hotel room to get his belongings. Massey then had to find another place to stay.
Massey was staying at a franchise location owned by WMK Management LLC. Sami Qureshi, general manager for the company, said WMK has a zero tolerance for discrimination or bias of any kind."
"Since the incident last year, we have conveyed our deepest apologies to Mr. Massey to address his experience. We also have taken multiple steps to ensure nothing like this ever happens again, and to make sure we are able to provide a non-discriminatory, inclusive, and welcoming environment for every guest. We’ve taken constructive steps to educate our employees by hosting multiple mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion trainings, and engaging closely with community members to listen and learn from them on how we can be a better community partner."
Qureshi also said Massey's attorney has previously declined to meet with them to discuss the matter. The lawyer, Jason Kafo, did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
“Mr. Massey hopes to learn what policies of Hilton have led to these events, what Hilton has done in response to such events, and will ask the jury to punish Hilton as an example to other hotels who may be tempted to encourage or tolerate discrimination at their places of business,” Jason Kafou told the OregonLive.com.
The hotel “sincerely apologized,” after Massey's removal from the hotel. Both the security guard and the hotel manager were fired.
On Thursday, Hilton, which is named in the lawsuit, provided FOX Business with a statement following the filing, saying, in part: "Hilton has zero-tolerance for racism and is committed to providing a welcoming environment for all guests. As a demonstration of our inclusive culture, our corporate employees and Hilton-managed hotels have completed diversity and unconscious bias training.”
The company has also increased training to address unconscious bias and diversity, according to the statement.
"In our 100th year, we are proud of our company’s culture, one that has earned us recognition as the #1 Company to Work For in the U.S. and #1 Workplace for Diversity."