PHOENIX – The Motel 6 budget hotel chain has agreed to pay up to $ 7.6 million to Latin American guests whose private information has been shared with immigration agents, according to a proposed settlement filed with the federal court.
A federal judge has yet to approve the proposal presented last week before the Arizona District Court.
The agreement between Motel 6, owned by G6 Hospitality, Carrollton, Texas, and customers represented by the Mexican Fund for Mexican Legal Defense (MALDEF) based in Los Angeles, stems from a collective lawsuit filed in January.
The request for comments from the company's media relations department was not answered on Wednesday. Motel 6 has refused to comment on the lawsuit in the past, but said it takes the privacy of its guests seriously.
The president and attorney general of the fund Thomas A. Saenz said on Wednesday that the agreement initiates a lengthy process that allows potential members of the collective action to hear the case.
According to the proposal, Motel 6 could pay up to $ 8.9 million, including reimbursement of legal fees and administrative costs, Saenz said.
"We are very happy with the agreement because it will provide future compensation and protection," he said.
The civil rights group claimed that Motel 6 discriminated against Latin clients in two Phoenix locations by sharing their location and personal information with US immigration agents, who later arrested at least seven guests.
Motel 6 said last year that its Phoenix employees would no longer work with the immigration authorities after the Phoenix New Times newspaper reported that the employees provided the names of the clients to the agents.
"This was implemented locally without the knowledge of top management", then tweeted Motel 6.
The state attorney general in Washington also sued the network in January, claiming to have violated the state consumer protection law by providing private information from thousands of clients to agents without a warrant. The prosecution has stated that the state has started investigating the incident after the news reported in the press on the Phoenix case.
Phoenix's lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight unidentified Latins who stayed in two Motel 6 locations in the city in June and July 2017. With the exception of one, everyone was arrested.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) agents visited some of the guests in their rooms after showing their Motel 6 employees their passports, driving licenses, or IDs issued by the Mexican government, according to the lawsuit.
One woman was deported from the United States and one man spent 30 days in a detention center until he managed to get a $ 7,500 bail, he adds.
The ICE was not part of the case and the agency refused to comment in the past on legal action.