A black woman is seeking $300,000 in a lawsuit against the Marriott hotel chain after she said a clerk at an Oregon hotel made her sign a “no party” policy that white guests weren’t forced to sign, according to the lawsuit, emailed to Daily Kos Thursday. As first reported by The Oregonian, attorneys representing Felicia Gonzales, a 51-year-old Marriott rewards member, filed the suit Monday, about a year after Gonzales’ stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott Portland Downtown/Convention Center in January 2019. A former resident of Portland, the woman had driven from her current home in California to visit family, according to the suit.
”Ms. Gonzales had never had a problem or noise complaint at any other Marriott hotel she had ever stayed at, but she signed the form so she could get into her room and move forward with her trip,” attorneys stated in the suit. Then, she started to observe how other guests were treated. “Having to sign a ‘NO PARTY’ Policy form did not feel right to Ms. Gonzales, so she went back to the front desk,” attorneys said in the suit. “Ms. Gonzales observed as multiple Caucasian guests checked in. None of them were asked to sign a ‘NO PARTY’ Policy.”
Gonzales requested a copy of the document she had signed, according to the suit. “The clerk stated the signed forms were locked in the General Manager’s office and would not provide her a copy of the signed form,” attorneys said in the suit. The law firm representing Gonzales, Kafoury & McDougal, also emailed Daily Kos an unsigned version of the form its client had been required to sign. The document was created “to ensure we can protect the hotel and our guests at all times” and “not to insinuate any distrust in the ‘average’ guest,” the hotel stated in the form. “No hotels want to have parties in them and we don’t want that type of business,” the hotel stated in the poorly crafted policy. “Portland is such a fun city to visit with friends & family and we are pleased to be a great gathering place however, we respectfully request that all guests be aware of other guests in the hotel and keep noise & activity to a minumum.”
With a policy like that, it’s no wonder that hotel general manager Lee Luetjen is also named in the suit. “Defendant Lee Luetjen directed, knew or had reason to know that the policy would be applied in a discriminatory manner and that African American customers would be asked to sign a ‘NO PARTY’ Policy that similarly situated Caucasian customers are not asked to sign,” attorneys for Gonzales stated. They later added in an emailed statement to Daily Kos that they want an explanation from the Marriott. “It is incumbent upon Marriott to explain why our African American client was treated differently from other guests, and Marriott should produce all documentation regarding this policy, including the instructions hotels were given on how to implement the policy,” the firm said in the statement.
Marriott declined to comment about the suit in an email to Daily Kos: “We do not comment on pending litigation. While this hotel is a franchise property and is operated by a third-party management company, Marriott strives to provide an environment where all feel welcome.” Although Gonzales is only seeking $300,000 for the situation she said had left her humiliated, with “feelings of racial stigmatization,” the suit maintains that the amount requested could later be changed to $1 million in punitive damages.
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