An African-American man who recorded video of two hotel employees asking him to leave the property last year has sued Hilton Hotels and DoubleTree by Hilton in Portland, Oregon.
Jermaine Massey claimed he was falsely arrested and discriminated against because of his race when he was a guest at the DoubleTree by Hilton on December 22, according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Circuit Court in Multnomah County.
Massey was seated in the hotel lobby talking on his cell phone to his mother, who lives in the East Coast, when hotel security “interrupted him, demanding to know if he was a guest,” his attorneys said in a news release.
“When Mr. Massey replied that he was, the guard persisted, demanding further proof, then calling him a ‘security threat’ and alerting the hotel manager, who called Portland Police,” his attorneys said.
The security guard accused Massey of “loitering,” and the manager ordered him to leave the hotel, the lawsuit said.
In a series of Instagram videos recorded by Massey and obtained by CNN, in December, he was heard asking the guard, “But why? But I’m staying here.”
“Not anymore,” the security guard replied.
At one point in the video, Massey showed the two men his keycard envelope with the room number and date written on it.
Police told Massey he would be arrested for trespassing if he did not leave the hotel, the lawsuit said.
“The police escorted Mr. Massey to his room to gather his personal belongings, and then led him out of the hotel in full view of other guests,” his attorneys said.
“Once the police arrived, Massey was no longer free to come and go as he wished, and was allowed only to move while in police escort and under police restraint,” the lawsuit said.
Massey “suffered, continues to suffer, and will in the future suffer from embarrassment, frustration, anger, humiliation, a sense of increased vulnerability, and feelings of racial stigmatization,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit seeks $3 million in damages. It indicates that Massey plans to amend the claim for punitive damages to a figure to be determined by a jury of up to $7 million.
Hilton says it has ‘zero tolerance for racism’
Doubletree by Hilton Portland’s general manager apologized. “We are a place of public accommodation and place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion and our hotel does not discriminate against any individual or group,” he said in a statement.
A security guard and hotel manager, who are named as defendants in the lawsuit, were fired. CNN unsuccessfully tried to reach the two former employees.
Sami Qureshi, area general manager of the hotel management company WMK Management LLC, which owns Doubletree by Hilton Portland, said: “We are committed to providing a welcoming environment to everyone who visits our property, and have zero tolerance for discrimination or bias of any kind.”
Since the incident last year, WMK Management has made diversity, equity and inclusion training mandatory for employees, Qureshi said in the statement.
In a statement, Hilton Hotels said: “Hilton has zero tolerance for racism and is committed to providing a welcoming environment for all guests.”
“Following the incident in December 2018, Hilton accelerated scheduled training for all franchise properties globally and worked with the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland, Oregon, an independently owned and operated property, to ensure their employees have completed the diversity and unconscious bias training,” the statement said.
Massey has worked for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI, his attorneys said.