A North Carolina family is suing Hilton and one of its franchises nearly two years after a hotel worker reportedly called the police after an argument about a billing error.
The incident occurred on Nov. 23, 2018, at a Hampton Inn in Wilson, North Carolina, as reported by CBS News. Dolores Corbett and her family were in town for a celebration of life event for her mother-in-law. Corbett noticed she had been charged again for the prepaid lodging so she went down to the front desk to ask questions.
Court documents state the worker at the front desk “loudly stated” Corbett’s credit card had been declined, according to The Wake Weekly. Corbett tried to tell the worker she paid for the room with reward points and verified the reservation during check in. The suit claims the worker was not swayed by the explanation and “loudly repeated” Corbett’s card was declined. Corbett asked the employee to stop but she “continued to loudly repeat ‘Your credit card was declined,”’ the lawsuit stated.
The worker also refused to verify the purchase, so Corbett asked to speak with a supervisor. Instead of honoring the request, the employee reportedly yelled “get off my property” and called the police. The possibility of dealing with law enforcement was alarming to Corbett, her attorneys said.
“Because Mrs. Corbett had not done anything that warranted calling the police, Mrs. Corbett was concerned that the employee might fabricate a story to convince the police to come to the hotel,” the court documents said, per The Wake Weekly.
After the call, Corbett “interrupted her husband’s breakfast to rush him and their 16-year-old son to their van, as they were deeply concerned for both their safety because of their fear of what police were told and uncertainty as to how law enforcement would respond toward the African-American males of the family.”
When the police arrived, the family told their side of the story and employee admitted the room was already paid off. The officers escorted them from the hotel and they were followed to the parking lot of a nearby restaurant.
“The police followed closely behind until they arrived at a restaurant parking lot to wait for other family who were still at the hotel,” the suit states. “While waiting, the police circled the Corbetts’ vehicle several times, which further elevated the family’s fear and anxiety.”
Almost two weeks after the incident, Corbett allegedly told a Hilton representative about the incident but the person “ignored the severity of Mrs. Corbett’s complaint,” the lawsuit claims, and she suggested, “move on.”
Patco Lodging, the hotel’s owner, said the “suit has no merit” and the company will be “vindicated in court.”
“As a franchised property of Hilton, Patco is committed to providing a diverse and inclusive culture, quality accommodations, and a welcoming environment as outlined in the Hilton core values statement,” Patco said in a statement. “We as property owners have a zero-tolerance policy regarding racism and discrimination, and our team regularly participates in mandatory guest services sensitivity training.”
Hilton is also satisfied with the handling of the incident, according to a spokesperson.
“We do not normally comment on pending legal matters, especially those related to the guest experience at independently owned and operated hotels. However, Hilton’s records show that our guest assistance team worked to resolve this complaint in 2018,” a spokesperson told CBS News. “We believe that our Hilton team engaged with sensitivity to understand, listen and address concerns about the guest’s experience.”
News of Corbett’s lawsuit comes less than a week after an employee at another North Carolina location called the police on a Black client who was at the hotel pool with her kids. The employee was fired and the owner of the property issued an apology.