SEMINOLE, Texas - The general manager of a West Texas motel said a "third party," and not a hotel employee, was responsible for alleged racist comments toward a black family who said they were barred from staying in rooms reserved months earlier.
The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a federal lawsuit against the Seminole Inn on Monday alleging the owner rejected Gwenda Gault of Williamson County and 10 of her family members. The lawsuit, which names the motel but not the owner by name, seeks a stop to discriminatory practices as well as unspecified monetary damages.
According to the lawsuit, the motel owner told group members they couldn't stay because "your kind of people bring in drugs, and drink too much, and don't know how to act."
"It was a third party, and we cannot be held accountable for somebody who is not an owner," Henry Shah, who said he's the Seminole Inn's general manager, said in Tuesday's online edition of the Odessa American.
But Shah said the person who made the remarks wasn't an employee of the motel and was likely a guest, although he said he wasn't sure who made the remarks.
He said that minorities are welcome at the motel.
"We are minorities ourselves. They are all allowed. We have not had any such issues or problems," Shah said.
He said the motel has several owners but would not say whether he was one of them.
Seminole is about 75 miles southwest of Lubbock.
© 2009 The Associated Press
On Monday afternoon, NewsWest 9 in Midland, a sister station of NewsChannel 11, was unable to get a comment from the manager of the Inn, Henry Shah, but on Tuesday today he released this statement,
"Seminole Inn has many satisfied African-American customers, and Mr. Shaw was surprised to see the plaintiff's lawsuit. Seminole Inn denies any claims of discrimination on the basis of race and or color, and denies that any owner or the empoyee of the hotel made any of the alleged racial comments described in the lawsuit.
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