Motel 6 settles lawsuit on accusations that it violated privacy rights

Earlier this week, news outlets reported that prominent motel chain Motel 6 has agreed to pay $7.6 million to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by Latino guests who accused the motel of sending their personal information to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Motel 6 locations in predominately Latino communities gave ICE and DHS agents lists of motel guests who had “Latino-sounding” names, even though neither of those agencies had served Motel 6 with any warrants.

It’s no coincidence that ICE arrested several Motel 6 guests during the time period that they were receiving these lists. Many of these guests were subsequently interrogated by government agents. Some were subjected to immigration-removal proceedings and deported. The Phoenix New Times reported that ICE agents in Arizona arrested at least one Motel 6 guest every two weeks from February to August 2017 and that at least 20 guests were arrested in total.

The guests’ claims against Motel 6 were based Arizona privacy laws that protect consumers from the unlawful disclosure of their private information. Though Motel 6 has not admitted to violating any law, this settlement, and the $7.6 million it promises, reflects that Motel 6 was likely liable for violating the privacy rights of its guests.

But privacy violations like these won’t end with this settlement. Here in Georgia, consumers should be vigilant and alert to the possibility that many businesses have access to their personal information and that some businesses may abuse their customers’ trust by unlawfully disclosing their personal information.

Like Arizona, Georgia has several laws aimed at protecting the privacy of consumers as well as their personal information, such as laws prohibiting the disclosure of another’s private information or interfering with another person’s right to privacy.

In some states, a person or business can be held liable for intruding upon another’s seclusion or private affairs. A victim must prove that the person or business intentionally and unreasonably invaded their private affairs in a way that caused them damage, such as by handing over their name and room number to ICE agents

Another privacy law in Georgia, O.C.G.A. 16-11-62, makes it unlawful for any person to distribute private information about “the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view” without legal authority, such as a warrant.

It is important for Georgians to know their rights and to exercise them when their rights are violated. While we can all respect the fact that government agencies like ICE have a job to do, we simply cannot afford to sacrifice all of our privacy rights to make that job easier.

If you believe your privacy rights have been violated or your personal information has been wrongfully disclosed, contact our firm to speak to an experienced attorney. The consultation is free, and we promise to be honest and open about your legal options, and how we can help you obtain justice.