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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Adam's Mark hotel chain today agreed to implement non-discrimination policies, attract more minority customers, and pay $8 million in monetary relief, including $1.5 million for hotel management programs at four historically black colleges in Florida, under a set of agreements reached today with the Justice Department, the State of Florida and a group of private plaintiffs who alleged the hotel discriminated against African Americans.

The two agreements, filed today in U.S. District Court in Orlando, resolve a December 19, 1999, Justice Department suit, as well as a class action suit filed by private plaintiffs on May 20, 1999, and joined by the State of Florida on December 16, 1999.

"Adam's Mark is the first hotel chain of its kind to take such comprehensive affirmative steps to prevent discrimination in its hotels," said Attorney General Janet Reno.

The Justice Department suit alleged that Adam's Mark violated Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by engaging in a pattern of discrimination against non-white guests. Shortly thereafter, the parties entered into serious negotiations to resolve the claims. Ultimately, the State of Florida and the private plaintiffs joined the discussions.

In the class action suit, the private plaintiffs claimed that the hotel chain discriminated against African American guests at its Daytona Beach, Florida hotel during Black College Reunion in 1999. Both settlements are subject to approval by the court.

Under the agreement, which will remain in effect for four years, the hotel chain has agreed to hire an outside monitor- Project Equality of Kansas City, Missouri -- to ensure that Adam's Mark is complying with the terms of the agreements. Project Equality will;

  • investigate any complaints filed by Adam's Mark guests;
  • design and monitor diversity and nondiscrimination training programs for all Adam's Mark employees; oversee a program designed to test all Adam's Mark hotels on a yearly basis to ensure compliance with these agreements, and with federal civil rights law; and, establish a marketing plan with Adam's Mark to identify, target, and reach African American markets.

In addition, under the second agreement, the chain will pay a total of $8 million in monetary relief including:

  • $4.4 million to class members, both guests and visitors to the hotel last spring; and $1.5 million to the State of Florida to distribute to the four historically black colleges in the state for tuition scholarships, and hotel and hospitality management internships.

"We appreciate the cooperation Adam's Mark has shown in resolving this matter. And we are pleased to see Adam's Mark striving to provide all guests with equal treatment." said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee.

Title II of the Civil Rights Act prohibits public accommodations, including hotels and motels, from discriminating on the basis of race, color, creed or national origin.

Adam's Mark owns and operates 21 large, full-service hotels in 14 states from Missouri to Pennsylvania to Texas. It also operates several restaurants, bars, or clubs within each hotel, which are patronized by local residents and workers, as well as hotel guests.