Portland Hotel Fires Employees Who Kicked Out Black Guest

Filed Under: Hotels

A couple of days ago I wrote about an unfortunate incident that occurred at the DoubleTree Portland. A black guest (staying at the hotel) took a phone call in the lobby, and was approached by security.

He allegedly flashed his room card, though the security guard called the cops on him. Some may disagree about the facts up until here, and how justified the security guard was in approaching this guy over other guests in the lobby in the first place.

However, surely everyone will agree what happened from here is outrageous. Even after the guy verified his room number, the security guard still had the cops come for him. At this point the manager also showed up.

Rather than apologizing profusely, he tells the guy to calm down and says that he’s just trying to help him out.

Yes, all of this was after it was determined that the guy was an actual guest, and they still kicked him out of the hotel.

Well, there’s a big development when it comes to this story. The DoubleTree Portland has fired both of the employees in question. Here’s the full statement that they released via Twitter:

We sincerely apologize to Mr. Massey for his treatment this past weekend, and deeply regret the experience he endured. It was unacceptable and contrary to our values, beliefs and how we seek to treat all people who visit our hotel.

We have a zero-tolerance stance on discrimination of any kind, and do not tolerate behavior of that nature.

We are seeking the counsel of community leaders, and will engage a third-party to conduct a full investigation into the incident – reviewing our internal processes, protocols and trainings to ensure we are creating and maintaining a safe space for everyone.

The employees involved have since been placed on leave for the duration of this investigation, and we will take the appropriate measures to ensure this does not happen again.

We have terminated the employment of the two men involved in the mistreatment of Mr. Massey. Their actions were inconsistent with our standards & values. We reiterate our sincere apology for what he endured & will work with diversity experts to ensure this never happens again.

Whether or not this apology is sincere on their part is anyone’s guess. Immediately following the incident the hotel didn’t take responsibility for what happened, but rather described the situation as a “misunderstanding.” It’s only after there was a lot of backlash that they seemed to take this situation seriously.

(Tip of the hat to panda)

  1. The justice of public opinion takes 3 seconds (and is oh so often in error), I’d grant the hotel a few days to evaluate and take appropriate matters.

  2. @ JoePro — Exactly what happened. This incident occurred 7 days ago. These employees probably should have been fired a few days before now.

  3. This whole incident, and the comments it has generated by those in the know has tarnished my high opinion of Portland to the point that re-visiting in the foreseeable future is now off the agenda. Sad.

  4. @Gene Joe Pro is correct. You have to investigate things. You don’t want to fire someone prematurely and then have a lawsuit against you for wrongful termination (not sure if these employees were at will or not).

  5. Yep. That’s how racism is viewed by privileged white men….’unfortunate’.

    This won’t even post….I’ve been tracking what replies of mine post (not critical) and those that won’t post (critical).

  6. Perhaps off topic but there are certain topics/issues hotels like to sweep under the table as they are complicated and may have legal ramifications Hilton doesn’t want to deal with
    Discrimination isn’t something that happens in just hotels to some folks but if this was indeed a registered guest and he was verified that really changes my perception of the event greatly.

    Doubletree Hotels on average are weaker franchise properties typically and don’t have the highest standards.They are full service hotels that really operate more like a Hampton Inn or other limited service property.They vary widely.
    If the evicted guest hadn’t ended up on CNN I doubt anything much would have happened
    In addition to discrimination you don’t want a rape,robbery ,murder ,bed bugs, scabies any problem like that because unless it goes public you will never see your case ever resolved unless going through legal channels
    Hilton as a rule tries to ignore/ avoid anything that aren’t routine issues as they all are potential legal issues for the chain
    I see this as two poorly trained and insensitive individuals lacking proper decency
    Hilton took the fastest easy way out to try and save face but as many know there is much work to be done going forward

  7. I agree an investigation needs to take place but I’m sure they fired the employees because they did the math on lost business vs paying out of court IF they even had to. Pretty easy choice to me.

    Keep the guy who supposedly might not be racist and deal with continuing PR wether good or bad or fire them to save face and also move on from the topic all together? Seems pretty easy to me.

  8. Ok, so here’s my view. We don’t see the full interaction in the video, but we see enough to know that Mr. Massey was calm and reasonable. Absent something out-of-character that happened before the video started, I think we can all agree the security officer was 100% wrong to call the police and kick him off the property without a valid reason. But I find it funny that everyone just assumes that when an injustice like this occurs between a white aggressor and a black victim, that racism *MUST* be at play. It’s possible this occurred because of his race, but it’s also possible that it wasn’t. Perhaps Earl is just an assh*le to everyone in the lobby who sits down. I didn’t hear him call Mr. Massey racist names or even articulate his rationale for calling the police. But everyone jumps to that conclusion of course it’s racism. And the manager is an idiot for not apologizing to Mr. Massey once he realized he was a hotel guest. To be clear, I don’t feel sorry for either of these employees. They deserved to be fired for their actions. But I’m not going to assume that racism is at play every time a black person is a victim of an injustice. It’s not always that simple.

  9. Hotel “security” engaging in racist profiling is unfortunately not news to me, as I’ve seen such racism in action way too often even when it fell far short of expelling a hotel customer with a confirmed room reservation.

  10. @Joe Chivas — Although I might agree that not every instance of a white aggressor and black victim is racism, I strongly disagree that there must be racist language (or some other explicit manifestation) for racism to be at play. In fact, I would say that *in general* there is not enough race consciousness in American society today.

    In any event, even if racism was not at play, the employees were completely out of line and, in my opinion, deserve to be fired. In fact, I might hazard to say that if the guest had been white, the employees might have been fired even sooner

  11. It is only 60 years ago, that black citizens were considered second class citizens.
    Change do come, but very slow.
    As guest, now you can get kicked out of airlines, hotels, taxi’s, malls, stores and so on, just because they do not like you and you can do nothing about it.
    Customers need rights.

  12. @Joe of course not every incident involving different races is not about racism. We all get that. But your lack of knowledge in American racial history and how it created implicit bias and what goes through in racial minorities mind in similar cases and why we have to take this issue seriously makes you think it’s funny. But it is not funny. It’s a real issue that needs to be addressed but many ignore the facts simply because there could be another reason but not racism. You agree that the manager was stupid enough not to stop it there but what do you think the reason he still wanted to remove him after confirming he was a guest. I am not suggesting anything but that ‘stupidity’ you called should have made you wonder, at least… Often stupidity and racism go in hand together

  13. @Joe Chivas

    You are so naive. The race card is the easiest to use, very powerful, and hard to prove. That is why so many people abuse this and turn anything into their favor. It is that simple.

  14. A lawsuit will be filed soon. There language is based upon legal counsel advice. It will be settled in the high 6 figures. No amount of money can take away the awfulness of what happened to this guy…could have to anyone of color and this is not the last time!

  15. Could the response of any of the parties been more nuanced? Of course.

    But, bottom line, no paying guest should EVER be evicted without abundant and defensible cause.

    Clearly that wasn’t present and yet Mr. Massey was asked to leave. Whether it was or wasn’t racism ought not even enter into whether a guest ought to be evicted, but hard to imagine a scenario where a white guest would have been treated this way, so to my white privilege tainted eyes, this case looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and acts like a duck, so I tend to think the damn thing’s a duck.

    This is global brand owner cleaning up the mess created when one of their operators had racist employees and failed to own their mistake in a timely fashion. The sad part is that very few people understand that these racists didn’t work for Hilton.

  16. @glenn t

    Portland and Oregon have a long history of problems with black people. The state of Oregon was initially founded to deny any black people to live there (they didn’t want to make slavery legal when they became a state because then black people would come in the state). These have continued to this day with pretty aggressive segregation in housing and neighborhoods in Portland.

    @Joe Chivas

    Whatever you want to call it, racism or implicit bias or whatever, there was clearly something wrong on a racial level about this interaction. I find it hard to believe, especially in a city like Portland, that race didn’t play a role in the decision to question whether Mr. Massey “belonged” in the hotel lobby. These sort of situations where black people face questions about whether or not they are simply allowed to exist in certain spaces are far more common and equally problematic to the far less common pre-civil rights style racist incidents that display genuine malice towards black people. You don’t have to hate black people to treat black people problematically.

  17. “he allegedly flashed his keycard”. – yea right. Does it make any sort of sense to you that someone showed their keycard and then the hotel decided to call the police? Give me a break. The police report tells a very different story. Namely that a concert just let out. It was late at night and there was a lot of foot traffic as a result. This guy is in a back area of the lobby on the phone. Its reasonable for security to be on the lookout for people coming from a concert ducking into their lobby to sit down and use a phone which can be disruptive to guests and besides the lobby is not an area for the public to come sit around in. Not to mention the fact that hotel management told the police that they specifically tasked the security guard with the assignment of checking to make sure the people hanging out in the lobby were indeed hotel guests. The security guard went up to him and asked him if he was a hotel guest. The guy immediately became belligerent and began yelling about how the hotel is racist for asking him that question. They claim he did not identify himself as a guest at that time and because of the way he was acting they called the police. Then the guy pulls out a video camera and starts taping and taunting them. Of course, he is going to calm down before turning the video camera on but do you really think if he was that calm the entire time they would have called the police to start with? Its also clear that the guard did not know he was a guest until a few minutes into the video when the guy finally pulls out a room key. By that time though he had already made a scene and then he demanded to wait for the police to arrive, so management didn’t want him in their hotel anymore. He then proceeds to try to argue his point to the police before quickly shutting off the camera. I would also note that he is filing a lawsuit against Hilton, so he has a reason to make this seem more serious than it may have been. You are basically parroting just his version of what happened, but his story makes no sense because if he told them he was a guest right away they wouldn’t have called the police. Also he is going back and forth with the police at the end of the video and then he shuts it off. The police indicated in their reports that he began yelling at them. There is a totally different narrative out there and I think people need to stop assuming everything this guy says is 100% how it went down because he is looking to sue and has ample motive to exaggerate. Use some commonsense. Situation could have been handled better on both sides.

  18. @Mallthus according to the police reports he initially refused to identify himself as a hotel guest and started yelling that the hotel was racist. I would also note that the police indicated he was yelling at them as well. If someone is doing that in the lobby of your hotel would you feel comfortable having them continue to stay there? No telling what someone who is that quick to anger would do later to the staff or to the room. Hotel could have handled it better no doubt about it, but in their version of facts he was the one who escalated the situation and if that is true then he forfeited his right to stay there.

  19. It would be nice to get the entire story instead of “approached black guy. Had got kicked out because he was black. What else happened?

  20. @Joe — great point, except for the part about this being obvious racism. Other than that you nailed it. Good work.

  21. @ Bill. Are you kidding me? He showed his key card. He was calm. He was articulate and respectful. What did you expect him to say? “Yes Master sir I am staying here and I am sorry for raising suspicion…I will go to my room now like a good boy.”

    He never lost his temper. He challenged correctly and with reason. I am equally appalled that you can watch that video and think there was anything here but clear cut profiling, harassment, and racism. Astounding. You are part of the problem.

  22. @Joe, If it’s not racism, let me ask you this, how many times have you sat in a hotel lobby or conference area on the phone (assuming you are a white man) and been asked to identify yourself as a guest? Other than in Vegas which is chaotic with security and checking of room keys to access certain areas I can say, in my 53 years, and 200 nights a year in hotels around the world, have NEVER been questioned. Even right after 9-11. And even when I am NOT staying in the hotel and just there for a meeting and sitting in the lobby to work and poach free coffee. Why? Because I am white.

  23. I remember when James Blake one of our top tennis players was tackled for no reason at a Hyatt Property in broad daylight. The bottom line is if you are not white you need to be far more conservative in your actions unless you enjoy proving a point.

  24. Is it not okay for security officers to check on a black person in the lobby since black people commit significantly more crimes? I don’t see men complaining being check more often as majority violent crimes are committed by men.

  25. @ Marcus. I am sure that in your world gay men should be less “gay” and women should dress less provocative so as to thwart what you might deem as justifiable harassment. Go climb back in your cave.

  26. Stay at the Hyatt Place Cascade Station if in Portland (PDX). This would never happen there. They have a very diverse staff and clientele. And its category 4. I was going to check out a different Hilton when going through PDX, but changed my mind after this happened.

  27. For those seeking to point to us not having the full facts from this OMAAT article I would say I think we do have enough information. Even IF (and I stress the IF) this man was annoyed that he was being checked out by security, is that so unreasonable? He was a paying guest. I think I would be pretty unhappy if I were being accused of using hotel amenities when I wasn’t so entitled as well. I think I might query why I was seemingly being singled out for such attention too. This guy did not commit any crime. I haven’t seen any allegations of him making any threats. Why were the police called in the first place? Inappropriate behaviour on the part of the hotel and that’s that.

  28. @Bill
    He was talking on the phone in a quiet corner of an upscale(ish) hotel and was interrupted by a security guard to ask for identity.

    As a paying guest, I do not expect and appreciate hotel staff to interrupt my phone call, unless I was disturbing other guests. I can’t imagine any hotel security approaching someone who is just talking on the phone quietly in a corner and ask for identity. Why can’t the security wait until he finished his phone call and then ask for his identity? The guest was on the phone, why did the security guard thinks that it is proper etiquette to interrupt a phone call that is not disturbing anyone? Bill, have you thought of may be the security guard feels like he is entitled to? If so, he failed at proper customer service for a upscale(ish) hotel whether his motive was racial or not.

  29. If I’m those employees, I’m not signing any release of claims without a massive payout from the employer. Even if they are at-will, they should pursue a lawsuit for reverse discrimination as they were only fired due to the racial nature of the complaint.

  30. I don’t think the video is the whole story. I have a feeling some of you havent spent much time on the street before and after concerts. Stuff happens, people are looking for places to conduct business, “use bathrooms”, and more. So I can understand why a hotel might be policing their lobby, there is a history.

    Beyond that, we have one person’s video edit.

    And, aside from somebody here mocking someone about 1930’s Mississippi, I’ve yet to see a solid answer to the conundrum – if white loiterers cause less crime than black loiterers – which unfortunately is borne out by crime statistics – why shouldn’t the people charged with keeping a hotel (or a city) safe use that information?

    All that said, a lot of mistakes were made here. And I absolutely hate the instinct in our culture that feels its okay to whip out a camera any time they feel aggrieved.

  31. “If I’m those employees, I’m not signing any release of claims without a massive payout from the employer. Even if they are at-will, they should pursue a lawsuit for reverse discrimination as they were only fired due to the racial nature of the complaint.”

    I do hope that you’re joking. Are you claiming that they were fired for being white? Hardly. There is zero reverse discrimination here. They were fired for obviously acting inappropriately towards a guest. He was clearly not being rude or inflammatory and was using the hotel lobby for an activity that one would reasonably expect a hotel lobby to be used for. I can think of no reason for the guard to have approached him at all other than color. That’s called racism and there are laws against it. Hotels can be sued for it. Even if “Earl” had a valid reason to approach Mr. Massey, that interaction should have ended after he displayed his room key card showing that he was a guest.

    There is something else. Hotels tend to have security cameras all over. I’m sure that footage exists of Mr. Massey sitting there in the lobby making his phone call. If he was out of control and yelling or otherwise being a jerk and disruptive, I’m sure the hotel would have made it public by now. They haven’t. That tells me that they’ve looked at it and know that their employees acted poorly. They know that Mr. Massey wasn’t a threat based on the security cameras. They also know that they need to enter damage control mode fast before more tales of Earl’s actions come out – this can’t have been the first time.

  32. @steve — There are so many problems with the crime statistic argument. First, it is well known that racism is a huge problem in the criminal justice system. Second, the crime statistic argument completely ignores the racial history of the United States. Third, even if blacks in general are more predisposed to commit crime independent of the structural racism of the criminal justice system and the history of this country (I feel ridiculous even writing that), that doesn’t mean it isn’t racist to assume that this particular black person must also be a criminal, in the same way it’s racist, say, to assume that Asians are bad writers because there are statistically a higher percentage of Asian engineers.

  33. @stuart

    I read Marcus’s comment more as lamenting the fact that black people are held to different standards of behavior in America than white people are and that they are subject to far more scrutiny for simply existing in certain spaces than white people. I don’t think he thought Mr. Massey was subjected to “justifiable” discrimination, more that he was criticizing the fact that such discrimination exists. I could be wrong and putting my own feelings (basically that what happened to Mr. Massey is a problem that white people need to fix, that unfortunately places the burden on black people) into his words, but that’s how I read it.

  34. @chasgoose. I do not think @Marcus’ comments were necessarily malicious BUT…to say this, “The bottom line is if you are not white you need to be far more conservative in your actions unless you enjoy proving a point” is exactly the issue at hand. This was not a guy kicking the furniture around in the lobby. Or being an idiot. He was sitting on a chair and talking on a phone. While I respect you seeing the positive, I find Marcus’ comment to be the root of the issue here. Why does a black man need to be held to different standards so as to be “more conservative in their actions?” Is this not saying the goalpost is different? Isn’t this the issue at hand? Is this not racism at its core?

    If he was asking a rhetorical question, I apologize. But I don’t read it that way.

    Gonna add to this that I am not some progressive millennial with a chip on my shoulder. I am a 53 year old man with moderate political leanings who found this story to resonate personally in that I saw clearly what many refer to as “white privilege.” That is, if it was me sitting in that lobby that night no one would have even noticed or talked to me.

  35. Could this have been a case of ugly racism? Yes, of course

    Could this have been a case of someone trolling for a 5 figure lawsuit based on “racism”? Yes, it could.

    Do we have enough evidence to know what really happened? No.

    The hotel says he was yelling and belligerent. Some of the comments here claim the police report says he yelled at the hotel employees, and at the police as well. Possible scenario is he created a scene in order to have the police called, acted calm when he was taping the selfie, then acted up again once the video was turned off to make sure he was kicked out, since there is no large payment unless that happens.

    Do we know for sure what actually happened here? No, but a number of commenters here are certain they do know, because of “Racism, Jim Crow, and Slavery”. So now any black white confrontation is “obviously” ugly racism.

    Is it racist to say that Blacks commit more crime than whites? Of course not. As of Dec 25, 2018 570 people have been killed in Chicago this year, and the vast majority of the victims were Black, and the vast majority of the killers were also Black. When a White person kills a Black person there are at least loud protest marches, and frequently riots, regardless of the facts of the case. When a Black person kills a Black person, crickets….

    That Black lives only “matter” when they are killed by Whites, even if in self defense, but they don’t matter when they are killed by Black gang members, is about as racist as it could be. 🙁

  36. @Bob1967 you are likely spot on about the lobby security cameras showing what went down. I have little doubt that if Mr. Massey was behaving as the police claimed in their report, the hotel would have happily released the security footage to cover their butts.

  37. Read many of the comments after the article, and is it true what I read that Hilton is a racist hotel chain? Some people said they would never use them again!
    I find it hard to believe the whole brand trains managers with a racist slant, HOWEVER I believe at least this manager certainly is racist, whose poisonous sentiment. would filter down through his staff.

  38. We have friends of all races. We all have been dissed by people of other colors. We socialize with mixed race couples and we do get the occasional stares. the whole “I am dissed and I am black so it must be racism” is getting old. Its not always racism. Some of our friends have to be told to say “please” and “thank you” and be reminded to be polite and not interrupt the staff when they are talking to someone else, and not bark orders at people. I have to tell some friends the staff aren’t rude because of the color of your skin, its because you are being an asshole or a jerk to them. Saying that The motel staff could be on power trips, I myself have gotten the “are you a guest” question myself by rude staff. I never play the race card.

  39. Obviously if this guy was belligerent pre-video, different story. Now we’re talking wrongful termination lawsuit.

    “Well Jerry, he may have punched you in the face, but his video doesn’t show that part, so we have to fire you”.

    #evidencematters #blacklivesmatter

    KFC employees at one location got death threats for insulting a girl disfigured by a dog mauling. Problem is they didn’t actually do it, just a scam.
    There was a gofundme for the girl which raised thousands, KFC gave her thousands. The traumatized employees were never given a dime.

  40. Ms. Judy Munro Leighton sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, falsely claiming that Bret Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her in the back seat of their car. Then later admitted that she made the whole story up: “I did that as a way to grab attention.” 😉

  41. I’ve stayed in hotels in several countries where after a certain hour I’ve had to use the key card to open the door or show it to a guard who when let’s me in.

    So why wasn’t the guard STOOD AT THE ENTRANCE making sure only guests were admitted if they were so concerned about non guests entering the hotel after this concert?

    I understand why hotels near concert and sports venues etc have such policies but to prevent trouble you stop non guests entering full stop not challenge them later.

  42. Ben,
    You are reporting on travel. You are not a news reporter, you simply cannot have all the facts, yet you continue on with summations.
    It appears you are racist, but I cannot even conclude for which side?
    Please figure out what you wish to stand for and take that direction for your blog.
    Thank you.

  43. @Kent more like you are either racist or pretend racism doesn’t exist anymore and you don’t want to ever hear about it.

  44. Ben is just stating his opinion. You may not like it but he has a right to it as much as you do. This “if you don’t agree with me means you’re racist” is crap. I had a Black bartender at a nice hotel be a total jerk to me the two times I was at the bar. Him being racist never crossed my mind, I just thought he was just a total asshole.

  45. I mean, seriously this guy was taking a phone call in a completely deserted part of the lobby. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that he was not actually a guest at the hotel. It is middle of winter. Someone apparently has family emergency and just wants a warm place to sit for a moment to regroup. To be perfectly honest, I have sat in hotel lobbies before at hotels that I was not staying at and never expected somebody was going to call the police on me. But then, what makes it worse, is not only was he asked to leave, but they actually still made him pay for the night. I mean, I don’t know what was going through their heads and I don’t know whether they are racist people, but they certainly are people who should not be in the positions of responsibility that they were in and I am glad that they no longer have such responsibilities.

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