Attorney general Bob Ferguson has announced hotel chain Motel 6 will pay $12m to resolve his lawsuit against the company for voluntarily providing guest lists to agents of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a routine basis for over two years.
In addition, Motel 6 signed a legally binding commitment to no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis at all locations, and must adopt this policy nationwide.
The company will provide training for its employees to ensure they do not release guests’ private information unlawfully. The attorney general will monitor Motel 6’s policies and training for the next three years.
Many Motel 6 locations in Washington turned over the personal information of their guests to ICE on a daily basis without a warrant. From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington locations shared the personal information of approximately 80,000 guests. Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent.
In addition to violating the privacy of tens of thousands of guests, the chain’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. For some guests, this resulted in the loss of their homes, jobs and separation from their families.
As a result of Motel 6 turning over private guest information unlawfully, many Washington consumers faced questioning from ICE, detainment or deportation. The Attorney General’s investigation found the chain’s actions led to the detainment of at least nine Washingtonians and had serious consequences for several other families.
Ferguson filed a lawsuit in January 2018, asserting that the chain’s disclosures of private guest information violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
After attorneys’ costs and fees, the payment will provide restitution and monetary damages to the approximately 80,000 guests affected.
Guests who stayed at one of the seven locations during the time frame that the practice occurred will be eligible for restitution. The locations are: Bellingham, North Everett, South Everett, South Seattle, South Tacoma and two SeaTac locations.
Motel 6 has more than 1,200 locations across North America with more than 105,000 rooms. The company owns and operates 26 locations in Washington.
Ferguson said: “Motel 6’s actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians. Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guests’ private information without a warrant. Any other business that tries to violate Washingtonians’ right to privacy can expect to hear from my office.”