AACTE, Adam’s Mark Hotels Reach Settlement
The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and HBE Corp., which is the parent company of Adam’s Mark Hotels, have reached a settlement agreement regarding the association’s 2000 decision to cancel hotel contracts.
The agreement terminates all claims by both parties concerning the disputed contracts with the Adam’s Mark Denver and Adam’s Mark Dallas hotels for the 2001 and 2002 AACTE Annual Meetings. Under terms of the settlement, AACTE will pay a total of $95,000 in installments until July 1, 2003.
“This settlement will cost the association and its members, but we stand firmly on the principles of nondiscrimination and our belief in equal treatment for all,” says David G. Imig, president and CEO of AACTE. Imig also urged other organizations to “think twice before taking business to any hotel chain with a reputation and court record for discrimination.”
The HBE Corp. filed suit against AACTE on April 2, 2002, in U.S. District Court in Colorado and was recently preparing to file a suit in Dallas, claiming that AACTE owed the corporation $216,000 for termination of both contracts. AACTE filed a response to the Denver suit, considering it groundless. Among other things, AACTE asserted that Adam’s Mark had breached implied warranties in the contract by failing to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws and by fostering a widespread reputation for discrimination that made it impossible for AACTE to have a successful convention.
AACTE had informed the Adam’s Mark Denver and Dallas hotels on Jan. 5, 2000, that the Association would not hold its 2001 Annual Meeting at the Denver hotel and would not hold its 2002 Annual Meeting at the Dallas hotel. AACTE made the decision in response to a number of incidents occurring after the contracts had been signed in spring and summer 1998.
In that year, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Lodging Industry Report Card graded the Adam’s Mark chain as D+. In May 1999, a class action lawsuit was filed in Orlando, Fla., by African American guests at the Adam’s Mark Daytona Beach, alleging discriminatory treatment during a Black College Reunion held at the hotel. The NAACP joined the lawsuit, and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the entire Adam’s Mark chain of 24 hotels and resorts “for engaging in a pattern of discrimination against minorities in their hotels.”
HBE settled the Orlando case with the NAACP by agreeing to pay almost $2 million to the African American plaintiffs and to Florida (see Black Issues, Jan. 3). Additionally, HBE waived damage claims against any organizations that had canceled meetings in support of the NAACP boycott. It was AACTE’s contention in one of its defenses against the Adam’s Mark Denver hotel lawsuit that the waiver agreement should have included AACTE.
AACTE officials stand behind their decision to end the contracts and cite financial reasons behind the settlement.
“We fully believe that AACTE’s decision to end the contracts was both legally and morally justified in the face of continuing allegations of discriminatory practices throughout the Adam’s Mark chain,” Imig says. “However,” he adds, “the reality is that we are a relatively small nonprofit association whose mission is to ensure high-quality teachers for all students. Our resources need to go toward our mission and not toward litigation initiated by a company that has never taken responsibility or expressed regret for its record of race discrimination. If this settlement is the price of principle, then so be it.”
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