A few days ago I posted about an incident that occurred at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina, where a Black family had the cops called on them for using the pool.
Well, a lawsuit has just been filed over a Black family having the cops called on them at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina… except this is a different incident involving a different family.
Basics of the Hampton Inn lawsuit
A lawsuit has been filed today over an incident that occurred in November 2018 at the Hampton Inn I-95 in Wilson, North Carolina.
The plaintiff is Delores Corbett, a business owner, who was staying with her husband Alvin Corbett, a masters-level mechanical engineer, and their two teenage children. This was a trip to celebrate the life of Alvin’s mother, Fannie Corbett.
It’s noted that Fannie Corbett was declared a “civil rights pioneer” by North Carolina’s House of Representatives, for being “the mother of community development in North Carolina.”
The Corbett family
According to the complaint, here’s what happened:
- The plaintiff went to the front desk to seek clarification of a billing error for a prepaid room
- The front desk employee loudly stated that the credit card for the reservation had been declined
- The plaintiff clarified that the room was paid with points, and that the prepaid status was verified during check-in
- The employee loudly repeated “your credit card was declined”
- The plaintiff asked the employee to stop making the comment, to which the employee continued to repeat loudly “your credit card was declined”
- The plaintiff pulled up information to confirm the reservation had been paid with points, but the employee refused to look at the information, so the plaintiff asked to speak to a supervisor
- The employee then shouted “get off my property” and proceeded to call the police
- The plaintiff gathered her family and hurried to leave, fearing the employee may fabricate a story, unaware of “how law enforcement may respond to the African-American males of the family”
- The family was escorted off the property, and followed by police as they drove off
What damages is the family seeking from Hilton?
The family is suing Hilton because they chose to stay at the Hampton Inn specifically because of their Hilton Honors participation.
According to the lawsuit, here’s how the family is suffering as a result of the incident:
“As a result of Defendants’ unlawful actions described above, Plaintiffs have suffered, continue to suffer, and will in the future suffer irreparable loss and injury, including but not limited to economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, feelings of racial stigmatization, an increased sense of vulnerability, and unlawful deprivation of their federally protected rights to exercise and enjoy equal treatment in the making and enforcing of contracts in places of public accommodation and having full access to and enjoyment of places of public accommodation without regard for race and/or color.”
The family is seeking:
- Compensatory damages to fully compensate for economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress
- Punitive damages that would punish Hilton for the willful, wanton, and reckless conduct, and that would effectively deter similar conduct in the future
- Attorneys’ fees and costs
What does Hilton have to say about all of this?
Also shared in the lawsuit is the correspondence that the guest had with the hotel. Shortly after the stay, the guest reached out to the hotel, and received a response from the general manager of the hotel.
He acknowledged that “the front desk agent’s actions were unprofessional and unwarranted,” and stated he’s “not sure why the front agent panicked and contacted the police for an issue.”
He did state that the agent claimed she felt threatened and feared for her safety, but he “did not believe that this situation arose to anywhere near that level of dispute.” He also noted that this employee had been reassigned as an internal review was conducted.
The plaintiff also reached out to Hilton corporate, and more or less got a canned response.
My take on this lawsuit
My take here is largely the same as my take on the latest Hampton Inn racism incident. Let me address a few points.
There is obviously systematic racism in our country. While we don’t know what exactly the interaction was like between the employee and the front desk associate, I think it’s highly likely that a white guest wouldn’t have had the cops called on them.
Heck, here we have two Hampton Inns in North Carolina that called the cops on Black families. Is it a coincidence? I highly doubt it. I’d love to hear from any white families that had the cops called on them at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina.
Also, whatever happened to customer service? The front desk agent claimed she felt threatened. How bad was she at deescalating the situation that it got to the point where she felt threatened during a billing dispute?
How do you go from “hi, I was billed incorrectly,” to “get off my property, I’m calling the cops?” Generally that doesn’t happen if there’s decent customer service. Also keep in mind that the manager even acknowledged that the guest was right when it came to the billing dispute.
Lastly, regarding the lawsuit, I’m sure some are going to say “well that’s just ridiculous.” While I don’t love how litigious US society is in general, the sad reality is that this is often how you create change. Look at how this guest was blown off by customer relations when she contacted corporate.
I can’t blame her for filing a lawsuit, especially after finding out that just a few days ago another Black family had the policy called on them at a Hampton Inn in the same state.
A Black family is filing a lawsuit against Hilton, after the cops were called on them during a stay at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina. This came just days after another Black family had the cops called on them at a Hampton Inn in North Carolina.
I hope Hilton — and other hotel groups, for that matter — take this opportunity to retrain their employees both when it comes to deescalating situations, and racism.