December 01, 2002
Meetings & Conventions: Newsline


DOJ Investigates Suits Against Chain

Henry Harteveldt Waheed Khalid of Dar-Ul-Islah (right) and his attorney, Hamdi Rifai The Department of Justice is examining whether Marriott International has engaged in a pattern of discrimination against guests.

The investigation stems from a New Jersey case brought by an Islamic group that claims it was denied ballroom space for a post-Ramadan celebration. Sources said the DOJ’s interest in the lawsuit could open the door for a federal civil rights case.

Waheed Khalid, president of the Teaneck, N.J.-based not-for-profit religious group, Dar-Ul-Islah, said when he tried to rent the ballroom at the Marriott at Glenpointe, N.J., in December 2001, representatives told him the space was not available. Khalid visited the room on the dates he requested and found it vacant.

Khalid claims he has tried to book the annual celebration numerous times since the early 1990s but has succeeded only twice.

Marriott denies allegations that the hotel has refused to do business with the plaintiffs because of their religion. “Marriott has a very strong record of nondiscrimination,” said a spokesperson. “We provide accommodations and facilities every week for groups of all backgrounds.”

Dar-Ul-Islah attorney Hamdi Rifai said the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division requested case documents not long after mediation efforts stalled in mid-October.

Attorneys familiar with the case said the DOJ is examining a possible breach of a prior settlement between Marriott and the Chicago-based Midwest Federation of American Syrian-Lebanese Clubs, which had charged a Des Moines, Iowa, Marriott with canceling a contract with the group on the afternoon of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Per the resulting settlement, reached in August, Marriott agreed to report any future discrimination complaints against the Des Moines hotel to the DOJ.

Sources said the DOJ is considering whether Marriott was bound to report all such incidents throughout its U.S. properties, which would have included the complaint filed in New Jersey.


Back to NewslineM&C Home Page
Current Issue | Events Calendar | Newsline | Incentive News | Meetings Market Report
Editorial Libraries | CVB Links | Reader Survey | Hot Dates | Contact M&C