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Several Lawsuits Accuse Hilton of Routinely Discriminating Against Its Black Hotel Guests

Illustration for article titled Several Lawsuits Accuse Hilton of Routinely Discriminating Against Its Black Hotel Guests
Photo: William Thomas (Getty Images)

If Hilton Hotels truly has the “zero-tolerance” policy against racism and discrimination they claim to have, why is it that its hotel staff members are still constantly being accused of racism and discrimination? The popular hotel chain is currently the target of several lawsuits filed by Black people who say they were singled out as people who don’t belong because of the color of their skin.

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In a recent interview with USA Today, Albert Law, one of the plaintiffs who has filed discrimination suits against the hotel chain, recalled the altercation he had with a security guard while waiting in the lobby at the Hilton Richmond Downtown in Virginia in 2018.

From USA Today:

“Do you belong here?” the guard inquired, demanding to see his room key and identification. As the only Black person seated near several white people – none of whom were being asked the same question – Law said in an interview he was deeply offended.

“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.

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The part about white hotel guests not being asked to prove they’re guests is a common complaint.

Last month, The Root reported that an employee was fired from a Hampton Inn in Williamston, N.C., after she was recorded confronting and calling the police on a Black woman and her two children for using the hotel’s swimming pool. Even after Anita Williams-Wright proved she was a guest by holding up her room key, the employee and officers continued to question her. Williams-Wright told the officers that there were “two Caucasian people” at the pool who were not questioned and that the employee, “said to me, ‘Oh because it’s always people like you using the pool unauthorized.’ Who is people like me?”

Williams-Wright is also one of the plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against the hotel and is being represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who tweeted about the incident earlier this month.

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After the employee was identified and fired, the Global Head of Hampton by Hilton, wrote in a statement, “Hampton by Hilton has zero-tolerance for racism or discrimination of any kind.”

Jason Kafoury, the attorney representing Law and other Black plaintiffs who have filed similar suits, disagrees.

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“Hilton invites unbridled discrimination by encouraging hotel staff to confront persons in public areas and demand that they prove their right to be there,” Kafoury told USA Today. “When guests take offense at being singled out, police are called.”

The Hilton Richmond Downtown wouldn’t comment on Law’s suit but said in a statement, “It is our policy to ensure that every guest feels welcomed. We train our team members to do everything in their power to deliver an optimal experience including looking after the safety and security of our guests.”

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Apparently it’s easier to say “this is our policy” than it is to actually enforce that said policy.

Earlier this month another Black family joined the list of plaintiffs suing Hilton over discrimination after an incident that, like Law’s story, happened in 2018 and, like Williams-Write’s story, involved a Hampton Inn in North Carolina.

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From CBS News:

A White clerk’s decision to telephone police in the Nov. 23, 2018, encounter “put our family in imminent danger,” according to the suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court on behalf of Dolores Corbett, her husband and two teenagers.

After staying overnight at the inn, the clerk loudly and repeatedly told Corbett her credit card had been declined, and refused to listen to Corbett’s explanation that the $145-a-night room was prepaid with points from her Hilton Honors account, the suit contends.

When Corbett, a businesswoman from Eastampton, New Jersey, asked to talk to a supervisor, the clerk yelled at her to “get off my property” and called police, the suit alleged.

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The officials at Hilton are going to have to do better or they might find themselves saying “I’m sorry” with their wallets a lot in the near future.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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DISCUSSION

Hilton’s only recourse for deviant/non-conforming franchisees is to warn them a few times, before going nuclear and revoking their franchise status. 

On the other hand, take a look at Hilton’s hella diverse board of directors:

Chris Nasetta (CEO) is also a well-known Trump ally.