SEATTLE—Motel 6 will pay $12 million to resolve a lawsuit against the brand for voluntarily providing guest lists to agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a routine basis for more than two years, according to the state attorney general’s office.
In addition, Motel 6 signed a legally binding commitment to no longer hand over guest information without a warrant or other lawful basis at all locations, and must adopt this policy nationwide. The company will provide training for its employees to ensure they do not release guests’ private information unlawfully. The attorney general will monitor Motel 6’s policies and training for the next three years.
Many Motel 6 locations in Washington turned over the personal information of their guests to ICE on a daily basis without requiring a warrant, according to the state attorney general’s office. From 2015 to 2017, seven Washington locations shared the personal information of approximately 80,000 guests. Each time Motel 6 released a guest list, it included the private information of every guest at the hotel without their knowledge or consent, violating their expectation of privacy.
In addition to violating the privacy of tens of thousands of guests, Motel 6’s disclosures “resulted in ICE’s targeted investigation of many guests with Latino-sounding names on or near the Motel 6 properties where they stayed,” according to the statement. “For some guests, Motel 6’s disclosures resulted in the loss of their homes and jobs and separation from their families.”
“Motel 6’s actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guests’ private information without a warrant. Any other business that tries to violate Washingtonians’ right to privacy can expect to hear from my office.”
Ferguson filed a lawsuit in January 2018, asserting that Motel 6’s disclosures of private guest information violated the Consumer Protection Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
To resolve the lawsuit, Motel 6 will pay $12 million and ensure its policies and training protect the privacy rights of its guests, according to the state attorney general’s office. After attorneys’ costs and fees, the payment will provide restitution and monetary damages to the approximately 80,000 guests whose information Motel 6 unlawfully provided to ICE.
In addition to the payment, the resolution ensures that Motel 6 will not provide guest information without a judicially enforceable search warrant or a credible reason to believe that someone is in imminent danger. Motel 6’s online policy and training must reflect these requirements.
The brand reached a tentative settlement agreement in that case last summer.