“We don’t want you here.”
Those were the alleged words of a Hampton Inn employee who ordered Rosemarie Mohammed, a woman of Arabic descent, and her 1-year-old daughter out of the hotel.
Through her attorney, Mohammed filed a lawsuit last week accusing Hilton Worldwide Holdings and Hampton’s owners of evicting her based on her ethnicity and perceived religion. Mohammed is a common last name among Muslims.
“Due solely to her last name, skin tone, and external features, the Hampton Inn West Palm Beach Central Airport forced Rosemarie and her baby to leave,” wrote her attorney, Yechezkel Rodal, in the federal lawsuit filed in South Florida.
Although the Hilton said it doesn’t usually comment on legal matters, a spokesman said the company found “multiple discrepancies between the facts alleged in the legal filing and our records.”
“Our aim is always to lead with hospitality and provide a great experience — every hotel, every guest, every time,” the spokeman said in a statement. “We have zero tolerance for discrimination and take any related claims very seriously.”
Mohammed, who lives in New York, had just finished a trip to Walt Disney World when she checked into the West Palm Beach hotel on Jan. 3. The next day, the complaint alleges Mohammed and her daughter were enjoying the children’s play area when she received call saying that her room needed to be vacated.
“Rosemarie was in disbelief and kept asking why she needed to leave but was not provided a satisfactory reason,” the complaint continues.
Still confused, Mohammed tried reasoning with another Hampton Inn employee. She offered to pay more money, switch to a different room and even wielded her 20-year Hilton Honors membership — but the employee reinforced his co-worker’s mandate, the lawsuit says.
“The man responded by telling Rosemarie that if she didn’t remove her clothes and belongings in the next short while, the Hampton Inn would place her clothes and belongings in the hallway,” Rodal wrote.
Mohammed eventually relented, bringing along family members because she was “too scared to return alone,” according to the suit.
This isn’t the first time a South Florida hotel has been accused of discrimination. In May, Rodal filed a suit against The Westin Beach Resort Fort Lauderdale claiming that his client was wrongfully kicked out of the hotel based on his Middle Eastern appearance. That case is still pending with representatives of the hotel most recently filing a motion to dismiss.
“Plaintiff attempts to posture the Westin’s response to an isolated incident as race discrimination, while failing to show that Plaintiff was denied the benefits or enjoyment of the Westin based on purposeful discrimination,” resort attorney Stephen Johnson wrote.