The Portland law firm of Kafoury & McDougal today filed suit on behalf of Jermaine Massey against Hilton Hotels and the DoubleTree Hilton in Portland, Oregon, for $3 million, indicating that they will amend to request $7 million in punitive damages.
On December 22, 2018, Jermaine Massey, an African American with experience working for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the F.B.I., was on the phone with his mother on the East Coast from a quiet corner of the lobby of Hilton’s DoubleTree Hotel in Portland, when hotel security interrupted him, demanding to know if he was a guest. 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. 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.
After checking in at another hotel, Mr. Massey posted his thoughts on the events, and his brief video went viral, creating a firestorm of outrage that drew the attention of media worldwide, including the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS National News, and a live interview of Mr. Massey with CNN’s Don Lemon.
The Portland law firm of Kafoury & McDougal then issued press releases demanding that Hilton explain why Mr. Massey was approached by security, why he was interrogated, and why in a Hilton press release he was labeled a “threat to security.” DoubleTree Hilton’s statements first spoke of their duty to maintain the safety of their guests, then criticized their employees, and finally announced that the security guard and manager had been fired.
The Kafoury & McDougal firm has been flooded with stories from other African Americans about racist treatment at Hilton hotels. Please see the three below, and their supporting documents. All three documented their complaints prior to the incident involving Mr. Massey.
Richard Willock, an African American baseball coach, business owner, and father of four, was staying at a Hilton’s Hampton Inn in Nashville, Tennessee, with his teenage son, a major league baseball prospect. Mr. Willock was approached in the lobby by hotel staff and a security guard, who demanded that he prove he was a guest at a hotel. After Mr. Willock gave his room number, he asked why, out of everyone in the lobby, he had been singled out. The hotel employee told the security guard she wanted Mr. Willock removed from the premises, then called the police.
Al Law, an African American software executive, was a registered guest at a Hilton in Richmond, Virginia, sitting in the hotel lobby waiting for a business colleague, when a security guard singled out Mr. Law and repeatedly demanded that he prove that he “belonged there.” The security guard did not approach white patrons and guests sitting nearby.
Delores Corbett, an African American mother of two and business owner, was staying with her family at the Wilson, North Carolina, Hampton by Hilton, to attend celebrations of the legacy of her mother-in-law, Fannie Corbett, a prominent civil rights activist. After Mrs. Corbett sought to correct an error in her bill, the hotel staff directed the police to remove Mrs. Corbett and her family from the hotel, and the officers followed the family in a patrol car as they drove away. Mrs. Corbett feared for the life of her son after the police became involved.
E.D. Mondaine, President of the Portland chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., then attempted to work on discrimination issues with DoubleTree and with Hilton, and while DoubleTree took some steps that the N.A.A.C.P. had requested, “Hilton Hotels completely rebuffed our attempts to discuss national policy with them, insisting that we speak only to the local franchise.”
Jason Kafoury said, “Mr. Massey hopes to learn what policies of Hilton have led to these events, what Hilton has done in response to such events, and will ask the jury to punish Hilton as an example to other hotels who may be tempted to encourage or tolerate discrimination at their places of business.”
Hilton DoubleTree’s Three Initial Statements
Link To Official Lawsuit
Additional Documents And Photos For Other Hilton Victims