FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, AUGUST 15, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
MARRIOTT TO PAY $115,000 AND ISSUE APOLOGY TO RESOLVE COMPLAINT OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST ARAB AMERICANS ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001
IN DES MOINES, IOWA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Justice Department reached a settlement agreement today with Marriott International and one of the Iowa hotels it manages to resolve allegations of discrimination against Arab, Muslim Sikh or South Asian Americans on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2002.
The Department alleges that Marriott revoked its offer, in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to the Midwest Federation, because the group's members are Arab American. The settlement agreement, seeks to resolve allegations that the Des Moines, Iowa Marriott, which is managed by Marriott International, revoked its previous offer to host the annual convention of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs. As part of the settlement agreement, Marriott International will pay $115,000 to the Midwest Federation and issue a formal apology to resolve allegations that it discriminated against the Midwest Federation.
On Sept. 5, 2001, Marriott had faxed a signed contract to the Midwest Federation for its signature agreeing to host the Midwest Federation's 2002 convention at the Des Moines Marriott from Aug. 8 through Aug. 10, 2002. In addition to using at least 60 sleeping rooms during the three-day convention, the contract also stated that the Midwest Federation would use the hotel's meeting rooms, restaurants and hold two dinner-dances in the hotel ballroom. On Sept. 11, 2001, Marriott revoked its offer to the Midwest Federation and repeatedly refused to reconsider its decision in the week following Sept. 11th.
"Discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Sikh, or South Asian Americans in response to the evil of Sept. 11, 2001 is not only wrong and un-American, it is also unlawful and will be treated as such," said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "Arab Americans who have, like all Americans, been victimized by September 11, should not be subjected to the added injury of unlawful discrimination. We are delighted that Marriott has agreed to rectify what happened and make sure it does not happen again."
"Today's settlement reaffirms that the tragedy of September 11 is no excuse for unlawful discrimination in our community," said Steven M. Colloton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. "Iowans have a history of opening their communities to persons of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, and we are pleased that the Des Moines Marriott will offer to open its doors to the Midwest Federation for a future convention."
Under the agreement, Marriott will:
pay $100,000 to endow a scholarship fund that will be administered by the Midwest Federation;
pay $15,000 to be a corporate sponsor of the Midwest Federation's 2002 convention;
issue a formal written apology to the Midwest Federation for revoking Marriott's offer to host the 2002 convention at the Des Moines, Marriott;
provide non-discrimination training for its employees; and
adopt a non-discrimination policy and complaint procedure at its hotels for addressing discrimination complaints.
The Justice Department's investigation was conducted under Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, and religion in places of public accommodation, such as hotels, restaurants and places of entertainment.
The Justice Department has established a special initiative to combat post-Sept.11th discrimination against Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian Americans. Persons who believe that they have been subjected to such discrimination should consult the Department's website at www.usdoj.gov/civilliberties.htm, which contains information about the initiative and how to file a complaint. Additional information about the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt.