Department of Justice Seal




(202) 514-2007


TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued the owner and operator of Adam's Mark Hotels and Resorts, a nationwide luxury hotel chain, for engaging in a pattern of discrimination against minorities in their hotels and their hotels' restaurants, bars, lounges, and clubs.

The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Orlando, alleges, among other things, that the chain violated Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by placing minorities in less desirable rooms than white guests or segregating them to the least desirable areas of the hotel. The complaint also alleges that the chain charged minorities higher room rates and different prices for goods and services than those charged to white guests, in addition to applying stricter security, reservation, and identification requirements. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels.

"This kind of behavior is simply unacceptable," said Attorney General Janet Reno. "It is hard to believe that 35 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress, this type of discrimination still exists."

The Justice Department's investigation, which began in July 1999, also found that Adam's Mark implemented policies that limited the number of minority clientele in the hotel's restaurants, bars, lounges or clubs. The Department's investigation stemmed in part from a class action lawsuit, filed in federal court in Orlando in May 1999, alleging discriminatory treatment of African Americans who stayed at the Daytona Beach Adam's Mark Hotel during "Black College Reunion," in April 1999.

"The federal government will not tolerate this type of behavior," said Bill Lann Lee, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We hope our lawsuit will keep the doors of all Adam's Mark hotels open to all persons, regardless of their race or color."

The Adams Mark Hotel chain is owned and operated by HBE Corporation, which is based in St. Louis, Missouri. The chain operates 21 large, full-service hotels, in locations around the country. Various restaurants, bars, or clubs, which service local residents as well as hotel guests, are located in each hotel.

"This case marks a major step in deterring insidious discriminatory practices in the hotel industry," added Donna A. Bucella, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. "Patrons must be assured that accommodations are provided equitably and fairly, without regard to race or ethnicity."

The Justice Department's lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting all Adam's Mark Hotels throughout the country from engaging in illegal discrimination and requiring Adam's Mark to take other steps to remedy past unlawful conduct.

This morning, the state of Florida filed a motion to intervene in the private lawsuit previously filed with the court. It is expected that the Justice Department will file a motion to consolidate with the private lawsuit.

Individuals who believe they may have been victims of or have any information about discrimination at any of the 21 Adam's Marks hotels throughout the country should call the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division at 1-800-896-7743.