Motel 6 will pay Washington $12 million to settle a state lawsuit that accused the national hotel chain of providing its guest lists to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, passing along guests’ names, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and license plate numbers, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Thursday.
Motel 6 also signed a consent decree, pledging that it will no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or subpoena, unless there’s reason to believe that someone is in imminent danger. The settlement does not contain any admission of wrongdoing.
“Motel 6 seeks to take corporate responsibility for past actions that adversely affected some of its customers, compensate those individuals who were harmed, and protect guest information with the integrity it deserves,” the consent decree says.
From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington Motel 6 locations shared the personal information of about 80,000 guests, without their knowledge or consent, according to Ferguson.
“Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in ICE’s targeted investigation of many guests with Latino-sounding names on or near the Motel 6 properties where they stayed,” Ferguson’s office wrote, announcing the settlement. “For some guests, Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in the loss of their homes and jobs and separation from their families.”
At least nine Washington residents were detained because of Motel 6’s policies, the attorney general’s office said.
A Seattle man who stayed at a Motel 6 near SeaTac was detained in the hotel parking lot and deported days later. “The man was the sole provider for the household and his wife is currently struggling to support their toddler and four other children,” Ferguson’s office wrote.
A Vancouver father of six, who had lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years, was detained and deported after staying at a Motel 6, Ferguson’s office said.
Most of the $12 million settlement — $10.25 million — will be divvied up as restitution for the 80,000 guests whose privacy was violated.
Anybody who stayed at a Motel 6 in Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, South Tacoma or SeaTac from 2015 to 2017 can apply for restitution at the attorney general’s website: https://www.atg.wa.gov/motel-6-settlement-claim-information.
Ferguson filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court in early 2018, after news reports that 20 people were arrested on immigration charges after two Phoenix Motel 6 locations gave guest information to agents. The lawsuit accused the hotel chain of violating Washington’s laws against unfair or deceptive business practices and Washington law prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation.
At the time, Motel 6 said in a tweet that the policy of handing guest information to ICE was “implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management.”
On Thursday, Maggie Giddens, director of external relations for Motel 6’s parent company, said the hotel chain was pleased to resolve the lawsuit and has implemented “additional controls to ensure corporate oversight and compliance in cases where law-enforcement requests are made.”