(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A black man who says he was kicked out of a Portland, Oregon DoubleTree for taking a phone call in the lobby, despite being a guest of the hotel, filed a lawsuit against the hotel this week alleging false arrest and racial discrimination.
In a lawsuit filed in an Oregon circuit court on Tuesday, Jermaine Massey claims he was falsely arrested and racially discriminated against in December by employees at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland who harassed him while he was on the phone talking to his mother.
Massey, a resident of Washington state, said he was speaking in a quiet corner of the hotel’s lobby on Dec. 22, 2018, when a security guard asked him if he was a guest, according to the lawsuit.
“[The guard] interrupted Massey’s phone call, and continued to interrupt the phone call, despite being told that Massey was on an important call on a family matter, and, despite Massey’s acknowledgment that he was indeed a proper guest of the hotel,” the lawsuit said. “[The guard] made a series of demands, including but not limited to that Massey declare what room he was in, produce a room key, and Myers threatened to call the police on Massey, told him that he was ‘loitering,’ told him that he was a risk to the safety and security of hotel guests.”
The guard then contacted the manager on duty and notified police, who ordered Massey to gather his belongings and escorted him out in full view of other guests, according to the lawsuit, which names Hilton Domestic Operating Company, DoubleTree by Hilton Portland and two former employees among the defendants.
Massey said he felt like his race was the determining factor in the humiliating incident and accused the hotel of racism. The suit seeks $3 million for pain and suffering and gives notice that Massey intends to sue for an additional $7 million in punitive damages.
“Mr. Massey suffered, continues to suffer, and will in the future suffer from embarrassment, frustration, anger, humiliation, a sense of increased vulnerability, and feelings of racial stigmatization,” the suit said.
The hotel manager and the security guard involved were fired. DoubleTree by Hilton also issued an apology as the incident gained national attention and inspired the hashtag #CallingYourMomWhileBlack.
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. Massey for his treatment this past weekend, and deeply regret the experience he endured. It was unacceptable and contrary to our values, beliefs and how we seek to treat all people who visit our hotel,” hotel officials said in a statement in December. “We are seeking the counsel of community leaders, and will engage a third-party to conduct a full investigation into the incident – reviewing our internal processes, protocols and trainings to ensure we are creating and maintaining a safe space for everyone.”
DoubleTree Portland did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Wednesday night.
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