Department of Justice Seal




(202) 514-2007


TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. — The owner and manager of the Best Western Scenic Motor Inn in Batesville, Arkansas will provide discrimination training to all motel staff, submit to independent testing and advertise rooms on a nondiscriminatory basis under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department.

     The consent decree, filed in U.S. District Court in Little Rock, resolves a January 2001 complaint alleging a pattern or practice of discrimination against minorities at the motel.

     The complaint alleges that defendants, Fred Thomas and his son Stephen Thomas, violated Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by denying lodging to African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities by segregating them to the least desirable rooms in the motel.
     Under the terms of the consent decree and a separate agreement with the new owners, all motel staff will be trained to ensure that rooms are made available to persons without discrimination. The motel will also advertise that rooms are available on a nondiscriminatory basis and independent testing will be conducted to confirm that minorities are not being denied available rooms. The costs of the training, advertising and testing will be paid for by the defendants.

     While the owner and manager intend to sell the motel to individuals who are not involved in the lawsuit, the new owners have voluntarily agreed to cooperate with the Justice Department to ensure that there is no future discrimination at the motel.

     Assistant Attorney General Ralph F. Boyd said, "It has been over 35 years since the Civil Rights Act passed yet discrimination against minorities in places of public accommodation continues to be a very real problem. Today's settlement is a sample of the work this Division will continue to do to make nondiscrimination in public accommodations a reality."

     Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, motels, restaurants and places of exhibition or entertainment.

     "I am pleased that this case could be resolved without trial. The consent decree will afford all members of our society full and complete access without regard to discrimination, as it should be and should have been," said Michael D. Johnson, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

     This case was referred to the Civil Rights Division's Housing and Civil Enforcement Section after a number of former hotel employees contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report the hotel's discriminatory practices.