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Motel 6 agrees to settle suit involving consumer discrimination

Motel 6, the national hotel chain that provides convenient, low-cost respite to a lot of weary travelers, has reached a yet-to-be-finalized agreement in an Arizona lawsuit regarding violations of the state's consumer protection statutes. The chain still faces a similar lawsuit in Washington.

According to news reports about the case, the management of two Motel 6 establishments in Phoenix engaged in blatant discrimination against Latino customers. The managers provided Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers with the identifying information and location of its Latino guests without a warrant.

Some of the Motel 6 locations in Washington are alleged to have done the same, essentially violating the privacy of thousands of consumers.

Customers of the motel chain who provided employees with identification that included Mexican passports, identification cards or driver's licenses were targeted by customs authorities. At least eight guests in Arizona were met by ICE officers at their hotel rooms.

Seven of those guests were arrested, which gave rise to the lawsuit. It's unknown, however, how many more people may have been affected before the situation came to the attention of the Arizona advocacy group that filed the lawsuit. In Washington, the lawsuit is being pursued by that state's attorney general for similar reasons.

The leaders of the hotel chain say that local management in Arizona acted without their consent or knowledge, but they've since directed all their hotel managers to stop voluntarily turning guest information over to authorities. If ICE wants the information, it will have to seek a warrant.

There are methods in place that allow authorities to pursue investigations against consumers, no matter what the alleged crime. They need to be properly followed, and any business that turns over private information about its customers to federal authorities without a warrant could actually be breaking the law in other ways.

Don't allow your business to fall afoul of discrimination complaints and consumer protection laws. If you're unsure of what you can legally do, consider getting legal advice about your options before you act.

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