FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SETTLES RACE DISCRIMINATION
LAWSUIT AGAINST SELMA COMFORT INN
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge today approved the Justice Department's settlement of a lawsuit against the owner and two former employees of the Comfort Inn, a fifty room hotel located in Selma, Alabama. The consent order, approved today by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Butler, Jr. in Mobile, resolves a January 18, 2001 lawsuit against the hotel alleging a pattern or practice of race discrimination against African-American guests.
The lawsuit alleged that Satyam, L.L.C., the company that owns the Selma Comfort Inn, and former hotel employees Navinabhai Patel and Hinanavinabhai Patel violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against African American guests because of their race. Specifically, the Justice Department's complaint alleged that defendants steered African-American guests to rooms on the second floor of the hotel towards the back, charged African- American guests higher prices for renting hotel rooms than they charged white persons, and denied African-American guests equal access to hotel facilities and services, such as the hotel pool.
"No person should be denied equal access to a hotel because of the color of their skin," said Ralph F. Boyd, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Today's settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department will vigorously enforce the law and work to guarantee that nondiscrimination in public accommodations is a reality."
The consent order permanently enjoins the defendants and their employees from discriminating against African-American hotel guests. In addition, the consent order provides for civil rights training of defendants and their employees, advertisements emphasizing that the Selma Comfort Inn is open to all persons without regard to race or color, compliance testing of the hotel at the defendants' expense, and reporting on the hotel's practices to the Justice Department for a four year period.
"The consent order will help assure that all people receive full and complete access to the Selma Comfort Inn without regard to their race," said David P. York, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama."
The Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing Title II of the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in certain places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and theaters.