Orlando Judge Throws Out Suit Against Adam’s Mark Hotel
A federal judge has thrown out an $8 million settlement between the Adam’s Mark hotel chain and five Black guests who say they were discriminated against at the Black College Reunion in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 1998.
The settlement was reached in March with the cooperation of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which filed a separate discrimination lawsuit against the chain.
Orlando U.S. District Judge Anne Conway ruled last month that she could not approve the settlement because of recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and a federal appeals court regarding class-action lawsuits.
Conway’s ruling does not affect a separate, nonmonetary settlement between the Justice Department and Adam’s Mark. In that settlement, which Conway says is likely to be approved soon, the 21-hotel chain agreed to take steps to prevent discrimination at the hotels.
The plaintiffs can appeal the ruling or pursue the case on an individual basis.
“We will leave it to others to determine the broader implications of the decision,” Sharon Harvey Davis, Adam’s Mark’s vice president for corporate affairs, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to moving ahead and putting all of these lawsuits behind us.”
Under terms of the settlement with the Justice Department, Adam’s Mark agreed to pay
$8 million to former guests of its Daytona Beach hotel and four historically Black colleges. They also agreed to revise policies, to seek minority customers and to hire an outside firm to monitor any discrimination.
When the settlement was announced in March, Adam’s Mark issued a statement saying that while “the company has never done anything wrong, we apologize for any actions that may have made any of our guests feel uncomfortable or unwelcome.”
Five Black vacationers sued Adam’s Mark, saying the hotel chain singled them out as security risks during the Black College Reunion and made them — but not White guests — wear orange wristbands to get into the hotel.
Black reunion guests also allegedly were charged more than other special event guests and had to pay cash in full to reserve rooms. The Justice Department filed a separate lawsuit, saying there was a pattern of discrimination at the hotel chain.
Meanwhile, in a separate case, Adam’s Mark filed a suit in August against the Organization of American Historians for $100,000 for breach of contract. The historians’ group pulled its February annual meeting from the Adam’s Mark hotel in St. Louis following allegations that the hotel had discriminated against its African American guests and employees (see Black Issues, Sept. 14). The Organization of American Historians has since filed a countersuit against Adam’s Mark for $75,000 in damages. The costs were incurred when the organization moved its conference.
In September, Dr. Lee W. Formwalt, executive director of the Organization of American Historians, told Black Issues that his organization believed that Adam’s Mark also breached the contract by not having an environment that was friendly to its members.
The OAH is a nonprofit association of more than 9,000 college professors, teachers and other practitioners of American history.
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