Settlement approved in discrimination suit against Motel 6

Business

FILE _ This Sept. 14, 2017, file photo shows a Motel 6 in Phoenix. A judge has given final approval to a $10 million settlement in a class-action discrimination lawsuit that alleged Motel 6 employees in Phoenix shared the whereabouts and private information of guests with immigration authorities who later arrested some of them. (AP Photo/Anita Snow, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has given final approval to a $10 million settlement in a class-action discrimination lawsuit that alleged Motel 6 employees in Phoenix shared the whereabouts and private information of guests with immigration authorities who later arrested some of them.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell on Tuesday also rejected arguments from Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office that the settlement should be renegotiated because the bulk of the money would go toward groups that advocate on behalf of immigrants, instead of Motel 6 guests whose privacy was violated.

The judge said renegotiating would be warranted only if he can conclude the amounts given to claimants are insufficient. “The attorney general has provided no information from which the court can make that determination,” Campbell wrote.

The lawsuit alleged Motel 6 had a corporate policy or practice of giving U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement information that guests provided at check-in. It also accused Motel 6 of providing such information without requiring authorities to get a warrant or without having a reasonable suspicion that crimes were being committed.

Motel 6 has denied wrongdoing.

The budget motel chain has previously said it told its more than 1,400 locations that they were prohibited from voluntarily providing guest lists to immigration authorities after the Phoenix New Times reported in 2017 that workers in Arizona were providing guests’ names to agents.

Motel 6 also settled a similar lawsuit in 2019 in Washington state for $12 million.

The Arizona lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight unnamed Latinos who stayed at Motel 6 locations in Phoenix. It alleged guests were discriminated against because of their race or national origin.

ICE agents visited some of the guests at their motel rooms a day after they showed passports, driver’s licenses or identification cards issued by the Mexican government to Motel 6 employees, according to the lawsuit.

The amount of settlement was publicly revealed last year, but an order written by Campbell provides an update on the claims being made so far.

More than 2,000 people have submitted claims. Claims totaling $3.4 million have already been approved, while another $1.5 million are under consideration.

Another $500,000 will go to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which filed the lawsuit, to cover legal costs.

The remainder is to be divided in varying amounts among four other groups. The amount to be given to the groups hasn’t yet been determined, though it’s believed to be several million dollars.

Three of the groups provide services to people who must defend their immigration status in the United States, while the fourth organization gives college scholarships to noncitizens.

Under the settlement, a class member whose information was provided to immigration authorities could get $75; up to $10,000 if the person is put into deportation proceedings; and as much as $200,000 if the person incurred legal feeds to defend his or her presence in the United States.

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