This matter came to the attention of the United States Department of Justice in September 2001, when the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs (hereinafter "Midwest Federation") sent a complaint to the Department alleging that the Des Moines Marriott and its staff violated Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a, by refusing to permit the Midwest Federation to use the Des Moines Marriott's facilities because of the national origin of the Midwest Federation's members. In response to that complaint, the United States initiated an investigation into the Des Moines Marriott's conduct to determine whether the Des Moines Marriott engaged in a pattern or practice of illegal discrimination.
- PURPOSES AND USE OF THIS AGREEMENT
Marriott International and City Center Development Partnership d/b/a Des Moines Marriott (hereinafter "Des Moines Marriott") readily cooperated with the United States in its investigation of this matter. Based on this cooperative effort, the United States, the Midwest Federation, Marriott International, and the Des Moines Marriott have reached this settlement agreement to ensure that Arab Americans are given access to the Des Moines Marriott's facilities and services on the same terms and conditions as non-Arab Americans and that Arab Americans feel welcome at the Des Moines Marriott. This Agreement is also intended to provide appropriate relief in furtherance of the public interest to remedy any alleged violations of federal law. This agreement explains the policies and procedures that will be established to meet these goals.
The agreement also confirms that the United States is closing its investigation into Marriott International and Des Moines Marriott's treatment of members of the Midwest Federation. The Attorney General is authorized, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-5, to bring a civil action in any situation where a pattern or practice of discrimination is believed to exist. In consideration for the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit under 42 U.S.C. § 2000a-5 based on the allegations set forth in Section III of this Agreement. Nothing in this agreement, however, would preclude the United States from introducing evidence of the conduct described below in a proceeding alleging that the Des Moines Marriott or Marriott International has engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination after the execution of this agreement.
In consideration for the terms of this Agreement, the Midwest Federation will release all claims arising out the conduct described in Section III.
THE UNITED STATES' ALLEGATIONS
As a result of its investigation of the Midwest Federation's complaint, the United States makes the allegations set forth in Sections III(A) and (B) below.
- Allegations of Discriminatory Conduct
After the September 11th terrorists attacks on Washington and New York, the Des Moines Marriott engaged in discriminatory conduct against Arab Americans by denying Arab Americans hotel rooms and access to banquet facilities when rooms and banquet facilities were available.
During the Spring and Summer of 2001, a representative of the Midwest Federation had several discussions with the Des Moines Marriott's Sales Manager about holding the Midwest Federation's 2002 convention at the hotel. In August 2001, the details were verbally finalized and on September 5, 2001, the Des Moines Marriott faxed a signed agreement to the Midwest Federation for the Midwest Federation's signature. The contract specified that the Midwest Federation had until September 20th to sign the agreement. The agreement stated that the Midwest Federation's 2002 convention would be held at the Des Moines Marriott from August 8th through August 10th. 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.
The Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs is a non-profit organization founded in 1936 whose primary purpose is to promote the culture and heritage of Americans of Syrian and Lebanese descent. It is composed of more than 2,000 families from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Since 1940, the Midwest Federation has also operated a program which provides college scholarships to selected members. The scholarships are awarded at the Midwest Federation's annual convention usually held during the summer. Hundreds of individuals of Syrian and Lebanese descent were planning to attend the 2002 convention.
On September 11, 2001, at approximately 2:30 pm, a Des Moines Marriott representative informed the Midwest Federation that the Des Moines Marriott had decided to revoke its offer to the Midwest Federation because another group wanted the space for the same weekend as the Midwest Federation. The Marriott's assertion that it cancelled the contract with the Midwest Federation because another group was interested in using the hotel is not credible and is a pretext for discrimination. On September 11th, the Des Moines Marriott did not have a signed contract from another organization to use the hotel's facilities from August 8, 2002 though August 10, 2002. Nor did the Des Moines Marriott have a commitment in writing to sign a contract, an oral commitment to sign a contract, or any other information on which they could form a good faith belief that another organization was likely to sign a contract to use the hotel's facilities from August 8, 2002 through August 10, 2002. The evidence supporting the United States' conclusion that this explanation is pretext is set forth in Section B below.
At all relevant times during the week following September 11th, the Des Moines Marriott's facilities and services remained available to host a convention from August 8, 2002 through August 10, 2002. Furthermore, during the week following September 11th the Des Moines Marriott had not received any commitment from a group to sign a contract, or any indications that a group anticipated signing a contract, or any other information on which the Des Moines Marriott could form a good faith belief that another organization was likely to sign a contract. Nonetheless, during this week the Des Moines Marriott denied the Midwest Federation the use of the hotel's facilities for its convention on at least seven separate occasions. Hotel officials also made contradictory statements about whether another group had committed to use the hotel's facilities from August 8, 2002 through August 10, 2002.
The decision to deny the Midwest Federation use of the hotel was ratified by high ranking employees of the Des Moines Marriott, including the hotel's General Manager and the Director of Sales and Marketing.
The United States Alleges that Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott Actions Were Not Motivated By a Non-Discriminatory Purpose
Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott assert that it decided to cancel the agreement with the Midwest Federation to pursue another organization that was interested in using the hotel. The United States interviewed a representative of this organization, reviewed documents supplied by the organization, and reviewed documents supplied by Marriott International. The United States' investigation indicates that Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott's assertion that they cancelled the agreement with the Midwest Federation to pursue another business opportunity is not credible.
On July 18, 2001, an organization contacted Marriott International's National Group Sales Office to inquire about hotels that could host a large week long event. The National Group Sales Office faxed the organization's specifications to several different hotels, including Des Moines. The sales staff of the Des Moines Marriott contacted the organization in July 2001, but the organization did not commit to use the Des Moines Marriott's facilities. The Des Moines Marriott did not have another conversation with the other organization until after it revoked its offer to the Midwest Federation on September 11th.
The hotel also made no effort to determine if they could accommodate both organizations and thereby maximize its revenue. For example, the Des Moines Marriott was holding two sets of dates for the other organization (July 27, 2002 - August 2, 2002 and August 10-16, 2002), only one of which conflicted with the Midwest Federation's convention. The Des Moines Marriott, however, made no effort to ascertain whether the other organization preferred one date over the other. Nor did the Des Moines Marriott tell the Midwest Federation that it would be able to use the hotel's facilities if the other organization did not select the Des Moines Marriott. The Des Moines Marriott's actions were inconsistent with a hotel trying the sell their facilities to the Midwest Federation and maximize their potential revenue.
On Monday, September 17th, the other organization informed the Des Moines Marriott that they decided to hold their event at another hotel. After being notified of the decision, the Des Moines Marriott did not immediately contact the Midwest Federation to determine if they would still be interested in holding its convention in Des Moines. Three days later, on September 20th, the Des Moines Marriott indirectly conveyed an offer to the Midwest Federation to hold its convention at the Marriott through the Des Moines Visitor's Bureau. This offer was made only after several stories had appeared in the press detailing the Midwest Federation's allegations of discrimination.
- Allegations of Discriminatory Conduct
- MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL AND THE DES MOINES MARRIOTT'S RESPONSE TO THE UNITED STATES' ALLEGATIONS
Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott deny that they engaged in any unlawful discrimination. Specifically, the Des Moines Marriott alleges that it received an inquiry from a larger group regarding the use of the Des Moines Marriott facility for a longer period than the Midwest Federation which included August 8 to 10, 2002. In order to pursue that business opportunity, the Des Moines Marriott decided to revoke its offer to the Midwest Federation pursuant to the terms of that proposal. The Des Moines Marriott further alleges that this decision was made several days prior to September 11, 2001 and no way motivated by the national origin of the Midwest Federation representatives or members. Marriott International notes that the Midwest Federation booked its 2002 convention at the Troy, Michigan Marriott.
SCOPE AND DURATION OF THIS ORDER
All provisions of this Agreement shall apply to the Des Moines Marriott, and where specified Marriott International, their subsidiaries, officers, employees, agents, assigns, successors in interest in the ownership and/or operation of the hotel located at 700 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, Iowa, that is now known as the Des Moines Marriott.
This Agreement shall become effective immediately upon execution by all parties and shall remain in effect for three (3) years.
Complaint: includes any oral or written, formal or informal complaint, to any administrative or official body, or to any officer, shareholder, employee, or agent of Marriott International or the Des Moines Marriott.
Marriott International Employees: for purposes of this Agreement, this includes only those employees of Marriott International, Marriott Guest Services, or any other subsidiary of Marriott International that has any responsibility for the operation or management for any public accommodation that is covered by 42 U.S.C. § 2000a. It does not include those employees involved with the operation of public accommodations where the law of the United States does not apply.
Public Accommodation: shall include hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, lounges, and all facilities contained therein, which are held open to the public.
Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott agree to comply with the requirements of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a.
NOTICE TO EMPLOYEES AND TRAINING
- Notice to Employees
Training for Des Moines Marriott Employees
No later than 30 days after the execution of this agreement all Des Moines Marriott employees, and any agent of the Marriott International involved in the operation or management of the Des Moines Marriott, shall complete an education and training program which shall include: (1) instructions on the requirements of the federal Public Accommodations Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a; (2) specific instructions on the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of national origin; (3) a review of the defendants' nondiscr
In addition, the training shall include sensitivity training and education related to people of Arab descent and Arab-Americans to be conducted by an entity approved by the United States.
Any new employee hired while this Agreement is in effect shall receive the training outlined above within fifteen (15) days of their hire date.
Each officer, employee or agent who participates in and receives instruction through the non-discrimination training program set forth above shall sign a statement acknowledging that he or she has participated in, understands, and has completed the non-discrimination training program. A copy of the statement is attached as Exhibit C.
- Marriott International Employees
Marriott International has adopted the policy and complaint procedure regarding discrimination in the provision of rooms and services at all of its properties discussed in this agreement. Marriott International will use its best efforts to disseminate that policy to all relevant employees and will enforce that policy.
No later than 30 days after the execution of this agreement the General Manager of the Des Moines Marriott agrees to send a written notice to all employees of the Des Moines Marriott explaining the employees' duties and obligations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a. The Notice will also state Marriott International's strong commitment to ensuring all guests and visitors to Marriott hotels, and other Marriott facilities that are places of public accommodation, are provided equal treatment, service, and access to Marriott's facilities regardless of their race, color, national origin, or religion. In addition, Marriott International shall inform its officers, employees and agents that any breach of, or failure to comply with, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a shall subject them to appropriate disciplinary action, including dismissal.
A copy of the Notice is attached as Exhibit A.
Employees and agents of the Des Moines Marriott must sign a statement acknowledging that they received and read the notice. A copy of the Acknowledgment is attached as Exhibit B.
Marriott International has implemented a complaint investigation procedure, approved by the United States, for any complaint alleging discrimination against a guest, visitor, or prospective guest of any Marriott International property covered by Title II, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a. A copy of the complaint procedure is attached as Exhibit D.
Any information related to complaints against the Des Moines Marriott must be reported to the Department of Justice as specified in Section XI below.
Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott are committed to providing all their guests the same level of service regardless of their national origin. Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott welcomes Arab Americans in all their hotels. In order to remedy any perception among the Arab-American community and the Midwest Federation that Arab Americans are not welcome at the Des Moines Marriott, Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott agree to the actions set forth below.
The Midwest Federation appreciates the good faith that Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott has shown by entering this agreement. In recognition of the efforts taken by Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott, the Midwest Federation's board agrees to consider holding its 2003 convention at the Des Moines Marriott. In consideration of the steps taken by Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott, the Midwest Federation agrees to execute a release of all claims arising out of the events summarized in Section III. The release is attached as Exhibit E.
- Establishment of a Marriott Scholarship
Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott agree to pay $15,000 to be a corporate sponsor of the Midwest Federation's 2002 Convention, which will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Troy, Michigan. As corporate sponsors, Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott will receive advertising in the convention program and at convention events and any other benefits available to other corporate sponsors. The sponsorship fee will be paid to the Midwest Federation no later than ten (10) days after the execution of this Agreement.
Letter of Apology
A Regional Vice President of Marriott International and the General Manager of the Des Moines Marriott agree to write a letter to the Midwest Federation and its members apologizing for the hotel's conduct in withdrawing the offer for the Midwest Federation to hold their convention at the Des Moines Marriott, as well as their refusal to reconsider their decision. The letter will also include an invitation for the Midwest Federation to hold its 2003 convention, or any future Midwest Federation convention, at the Des Moines Marriott. A copy of the letter is attached as Exhibit F.
No later than ten (10) days after the execution of this Agreement, Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott agree to provide $100,000 to the Midwest Federation to endow a "Marriott Scholarship." This scholarship will be administered by the Midwest Federation.
REPORTING AND RECORD RETENTION REQUIREMENTS
- Quarterly Reports
- Training Information: The first report shall include a certification that the initial non-discrimination training program set forth in this Agreement has been completed, shall specify the location of all signed employee acknowledgments, and shall include copies of the training materials covering the requirements of Title II and Marriott International's Title II complaint policy. Each report thereafter shall contain a description of all training activity conducted pursuant to the Agreement which has occurred during the preceding six month reporting period.
- Discrimination Complaints: Each report shall contain details of any complaint received during the preceding six months, charging or alleging discrimination on the basis of national origin with respect to service or treatment of customers at the Des Moines Marriott, including a description of the nature of the complaint, the names of any employees involved, any action taken by the Des Moines Marriott and Marriott International in response to the complaint, and the name and contact information of the complainant.
- Notice to Employees: The first report shall also contain a certification stating that the Notice to Employees described in Section VII above was distributed to all Des Moines Marriott.
Preservation of Records and Rights of Inspection
For the term of this Agreement, Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott will preserve all records related to compliance with this Agreement. Upon reasonable notice to Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott, representatives of the United States shall be permitted to inspect and copy any such records; provided, however, that the United States shall endeavor to minimize any inconvenience to the Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott from such inspections.
No later than six months after the Execution of this Agreement, and every six months thereafter for the duration of the Agreement, the Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott shall submit a report to the United States including the following:
MODIFICATION AND ENFORCEMENT
Upon any failure by Marriott International or the Des Moines Marriott, whether willful or otherwise, to perform in a timely manner any act required by the Agreement, or in the event of any other material act by Marriott International or the Des Moines Marriott violating any provision of this Agreement, the United States may initiate an action to seek to enforce this Agreement in any appropriate federal district court. Marriott International and the Des Moines Marriott agree that they will not object to the jurisdiction of the court to hear such action. In any such action, the United States may petition the court to impose any remedy authorized by law or equity, including but not limited to an order requiring performance of an act, deeming an act to have been performed, authorizing an extension of the duration of this Agreement, or awarding any damages, costs, and/or attorneys' fees which may be occasioned by the violation of this Agreement.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the parties shall endeavor in good faith to resolve informally any differences regarding interpretation of, or compliance with this Agreement, prior to petitioning a court for a judicial resolution of any such differences.
This Agreement may be modified at any time by written agreement of the parties. Any and all such written modifications shall be considered to be part of this Agreement.
It is so agreed and stipulated by the parties as evidenced by the signatures of respective counsel below.
FOR THE UNITED STATES:
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General
Steven M. Colloton
United States Attorney for the
Southern District of Iowa
110 E. Court Ave., Suite 286
Des Moines, Iowa 50309-2053
Joan A. Magagna
Timothy J. Moran
Eric I. Halperin
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20530
FOR THE MIDWEST FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SYRIAN-LEBANESE CLUBS:
William J. Haddad
Haddad, Schlack & Associates
155 N. Michigan Avenue
The Doral Plaza - Third Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60601
FOR MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL AND CITY CENTER DEVELOPMENT LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, D/B/A THE DES MOINES MARRIOTT:
Its: ________________EXHIBIT A
To All Des Moines Marriott Employees:
Attached you will find a copy of Marriott's policy which prohibits discrimination in the provision of rooms or services to guests or potential guests. This policy contains a procedure for resolving complaints of possible violations of this policy.
Marriott is strongly committed to this policy and its enforcement. It is incumbent on all employees to follow it. Failure to comply with this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.EXHIBIT B
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT OF NOTICE OF MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL'S POLICY OF EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL GUESTS
On ______________, 200__, I was given and I read a Notice from the General Manager of the Des Moines Marriott explaining the employees' duties and obligations under Marriott policy and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000a.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
DateEXHIBIT CACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RECEIPT OF TRAINING
On ______________, 2002, I was instructed by_________________ with respect to my responsibilities under federal public accommodations law and applicable state laws. I also was instructed as to Marriott International's commitment to nondiscrimination and the complaint policies and procedures. I understand my legal responsibilities and will comply with those responsibilities. I have been informed by my employer that I will not be reprimanded by my employer for providing information to any law enforcement agency (including the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20530, telephone 202-514-4713) or official regarding my employer's compliance with the public accommodations laws.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
(Date)EXHIBIT D COMPLAINT PROCEDURE
Marriott International prohibits discrimination or harassment against associates, suppliers or guests on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, age, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by applicable law. In accord with this policy and federal, state or local law, Marriott International prohibits discrimination in the provision of rooms or services to guests or potential guests on the same basis.
All complaints regarding the provision of rooms or services to guests or potential guests should be handled first by hotel management. If the complaint is not resolved at the hotel level or if it involves local hotel management, the guest should be referred to Guest Relations. If Guest Relations is unable to resolve the complaint, the complaint should be referred to the regional Casualty Claims office for investigation and possible resolution. No employee will be retaliated against for reporting violations of this policy.EXHIBIT E RELEASE
In consideration for the relief set forth in the Settlement Agreement between the United States, the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs, Marriott International, and the City Center Development Limited Partnership on _______________, 2002, on behalf of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs, I hereby release and forever discharge all claims related to the facts at issue in the Agreement referenced above and any other claims arising from alleged discrimination at the Des Moines Marriott up to and including the date of execution of this release, that the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs may have against any of the Defendants, their heirs, executors, administrators, successors or assigns. I represent and state that I have actual authority to execute this Release on behalf of the Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
Executed this ____ day of _____________, 2002.
Dear Officers and Members of the Midwest Federation of Syrian and Lebanese Americans:
Please accept the apology of Marriott International for the revocation of the Des Moines Marriott's offer to host your annual convention in August 2002. I certainly understand why you were offended at being notified of the revocation on September 11, 2001. Marriott is sorry for any pain its actions caused you.
I want to assure you that the Midwest Federation and its members are valued customers of Marriott and are welcome at any of our properties. To that end, I would hope that the Midwest Federation would decide to hold its 2003 annual convention at the Marriott Des Moines. We would be pleased to be your hosts.
All documents or other communications required by this Order to be sent to counsel for the United States shall be addressed as follows: Chief, Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Civil Rights Division, DJ 167-28-1, United States Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20530.
Document Filed: August 15, 2002 > >