SEATTLE — Motel 6 will pay $12 million in restitution after voluntarily providing guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement without the guests’ knowledge or consent.
"It was a methodical approach to turn over guests’ names, even without a warrant, essentially no questions asked," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday.
The $12 million restitution payments will be disbursed to the over 80,000 guests whose information was shared after covering costs of the Attorney General Office's investigation.
Ferguson said that amount of restitution was large for this type of privacy case.
In addition to the payments, Motel 6 signed a legally binding agreement that it will stop the practice nationwide. It also agreed to implement policies to prevent employees from sharing information with law enforcement unless they go through the proper legal channels.
Since the practices came to light, Ferguson said four national Motel 6 employees have left the company, including its CEO, president and COO, general counsel, and vice president of safety and security.
The settlement stems from a 2018 lawsuit that alleges Motel 6 handed out information for over 80,000 guests from February 2015 to September 2017. Seven locations in Washington were implicated, including locations in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellingham, south Everett, north Everett, and two in SeaTac.
Information included names, date of births, room numbers, license and license plate numbers, and other private information.
In three locations, Ferguson said his investigation found that ICE agents would go to the motels, circle Latino or Latina sounding names, and then return to their cars to presumably run those names.
Nine people were detained as a result of Motel 6's practice.
“Today’s resolution ensures that more Motel 6 guests won’t have to suffer as these families are suffering,” Ferguson said.