An accommodation group will pay more than $17 million to compensate thousands of guests after allegedly passing their private information to US immigration officials.
UPI reports that from 2015 to 2017, seven Motel 6 locations in Washington state secretly shared guests’ private information daily with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.
The US$12 million settlement of a lawsuit brought against the company was announced by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson last week, with Motel 6 ordered to pay restitution to some 80,000 victims.
“Motel 6’s actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians,” said the state attorney.
“Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guests’ private information without a warrant.”
The transfer of information led to many of the Motel 6 guests facing questioning, detainment and deportation by the government agency, said Ferguson.
The attorney general’s investigation found the motel group’s actions “led to the detainment of at least nine Washingtonians and had serious consequences for several Washington families”.
Guests with Latino-sounding names were particularly targeted following the disclosures, according the investigation.
Motel 6 is a privately-owned hospitality company with a chain of budget motels across the United States and Canada. In an earlier statement, the company said the practice was “implemented at the local level without the knowledge of senior management”.
“For some guests, Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in the loss of their homes and jobs and separation from their families,” said the attorney general in a statement.
Those affected by Motel 6’s passing on of information have been encouraged to contact the attorney general’s civil rights division for restitution.
The settlement resolution also states that Motel 6 must adopt a nationwide policy banning its employees from providing guest information to anyone without being shown a warrant.
“Any other business that tries to violate Washingtonians’ right to privacy can expect to hear from my office,” said the state attorney.