FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECR
THURSDAY, JANUARY 18, 2001(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST
ARKANSAS BEST WESTERN SCENIC MOTOR INN
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today sued the owner and manager of the Best Western Scenic Motor Inn, a 40 room tourist class motel in Batesville, Arkansas, for engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against minorities in their motel.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, Arkansas against owner Fred W. Thomas, and manager, Stephen Thomas alleges, among other things, that the motel violated Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by denying lodging to African Americans and other minorities solely on the basis of race, color, or national origin, despite the availability of rooms. The suit further alleges that, on those occasions when rooms were rented to minorities, minority guests were placed in less desirable rooms than white guests or segregated to the least desirable areas of the hotel. Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and motels. The complaint alleges that the motel owner and manager engaged in discriminatory policies and practices whereby employees were instructed to identify minority callers and patrons for denial of lodging and/or segregation within the motel.
"One of the reasons for the passage of the civil rights statute at issue in this case was to eliminate the need for African Americans to drive hundreds of miles out of their way in order to find a lodging facility open to all races," said Bill Lann Lee, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The fact that people continue to be denied lodging in the 21st century because of their race, color or national origin is intolerable. We hope our lawsuit will ensure a room in every hotel and motel, large or small, rural or urban, for all travelers, regardless of their race, color, or national origin."
The Best Western Scenic Motor Inn is a fee-paying member of Best Western International. The motel is owned by Fred W. Thomas and managed by his son, Stephen Thomas.
The Justice Department's lawsuit seeks a court order prohibiting the Thomases and the Best Western Scenic Motor Inn from engaging in illegal discrimination and requiring the motel to take other steps to remedy past unlawful conduct.