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Motel 6 and its parent company agreed to pay up to $7.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit claiming that the motel chain had allegedly provided information on Latino guests to immigration officials, according to a copy of the settlement agreement.
The agreement was filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court of Arizona and is an update on a January class-action lawsuit waged by eight plaintiffs who allege that Motel 6 Operating L.P. and its parent company, G6 Hospitality LLC, participated in “unauthorized disclosures of private information” and “unauthorized disclosures of private information.”
According to the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), who represents the Latino plaintiffs, the eight individuals were detained last year at two of the motel’s Phoenix-area locations and accused the company of sharing information, such as names and room numbers, with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“It is in no company’s interests to target and to violate the rights of any of its customers,” Thomas Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, said in a January statement.
Though Motel 6 and its parent company had initially denied “any wrongdoing or violation of the law,” a spokesperson for Motel 6 says they are now working with those affected.
“Motel 6 fully recognizes the seriousness of the situation and accepts full responsibility for both compensating those who were harmed and taking the necessary steps to ensure that we protect the privacy of our guests,” said Zeno Group Vice President Jason Morley in a joint statement made on behalf of Motel 6 and MALDEF.
According to a copy of the agreement, the hotel chain has agreed to pay up to $5.6 million to guests who were "placed in immigration removal proceedings in connection with their encounter with federal immigration," with $7,500 per person. The company set aside $1 million for people who were interrogated by authorities, with people getting $1,000 each. Another $1 million will go to guests whose information was shared, with people getting $50 each.
MALDEF has also outlined several other stipulations that would enforce a set protocol for information requests made by immigration authorities.
“Defendants shall establish a 24-hour hotline to assist employees at operated locations when they receive any request for guest Information from federal immigration authorities,” reads the agreement, which also asks for that all immigration agency warrants or subpoenas go through the chain’s legal department.
Morley confirmed that Motel 6 has since made changes to its protocol, including implementing “additional controls to protect private information” and “enhance corporate oversight in cases where law enforcement requests information” are made.
The settlement is now pending court approval.