Hotel Can’t Shake Claims of Racial Wedding Bias

     (CN) – The 6th Circuit revived a discrimination lawsuit accusing a Michigan hotel of refusing to host a black couple’s wedding reception. A three-judge panel reversed summary judgment for the hotel, saying the hotel’s failure to hand over records on its wedding contracts made it impossible to determine if the hotel treated white couples differently.

     Devon and Alfreda Keck tried for weeks to book an appointment with a wedding specialist at the Kensington Court Hotel in Ann Arbor, but were allegedly given the run-around by hotel staff and management.
     During a three-month period, the Kecks said they visited the hotel seven times, left numerous phone messages, filled out two inquiry forms and placed two holds on their desired reception date.
     Despite their efforts, they never spoke to a wedding specialist and eventually had to find another venue.
     The couple filed suit against hotel owner Graham Hotel Systems, alleging racial discrimination.
     The hotel owner refused to provide records of all hotel wedding contracts entered that summer, saying the request was “overly burdensome.”
     It also chalked up its conduct to the “extraordinary corporate transition” that took place when it changed its name from Crowne Plaza to the Kensington Court Hotel.
     The district court accepted the hotel’s justifications, but the 6th Circuit reversed.
      “There is a genuine issue of material fact in this case as to whether the plaintiffs were victims of bad timing and just slipped through the proverbial cracks, or whether the Hotel denied them the right to enter into a contract because of their race,” Judge Merritt concluded.

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