Red Roof settles Georgia human trafficking lawsuit

Four plaintiffs alleged employees at Atlanta Red Roof hotels allowed the trafficking to continue

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The Red Roof Inn in Smyrna, Georgia, was one of the Atlanta area properties named in a civil lawsuit, recently settled, that alleged employees at the hotels allowed human trafficking to take place there.

RED ROOF HAS settled a lawsuit that alleged employees at Red Roof properties near Atlanta knew about and participated in human trafficking in those hotels. The lawsuit included a hotel owned by Asian American led Varahi Hotels LLC.

Four female plaintiffs, identified only as Jane Does 1 to 4, filed the lawsuit in 2019 in connection to the alleged trafficking of which they were victims. The hotel properties were in the Buckhead area of Atlanta and the community of Smyrna.

The lawsuit alleged that Red Roof and Varahi violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and failed to keep the hotels safe and secure. Red Roof’s defense that it was not responsible for the actions of the traffickers was not sufficient, the suit said.

“There is evidence to show that, before and during the relevant time periods, consumer feedback and police activity alerted the Red Roof Defendants that prostitution and pimping was occurring at the Buckhead and Smyrna Red Roof hotels,” the lawsuit said. “Furthermore, there is evidence showing that hotel employees at both locations were aware of the prostitution occurring on the premises, they acknowledged that prostitution and sex trafficking share common indicators, and they reported the criminal activity to management. Because there is both evidence of prior, substantially similar criminal acts and evidence that the inherent danger of the sex trade was otherwise known to the Red Roof Defendants, a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the danger of third-party criminal conduct here was reasonably foreseeable.”

Signs of trafficking that should have been apparent, according to the lawsuit, include the fact that some of the prostitutes were emaciated and showed signs of physical abuse. The lawsuit also alleged that Red Roof employees and the sex traffickers “shared a common objective of making money, either directly or indirectly, from the prostitution and trafficking.”

“At a point in time, most of the Smyrna Red Roof’s business came from traffickers renting hotel rooms,” one of the plaintiffs said in her complaint according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution newspaper. “The Smyrna Red Roof was full of girls hanging over balconies to advertise, and traffickers directing commercial sex buyers to hotel rooms. There were often more than 100 buyers at the hotel in a single day. Hotel employees also saw traffickers openly beat victims in the public parking lot.”

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they had no comment on the settlement of the lawsuit, which according to the AJC was scheduled to on the eve of a trial due to start in a federal court. In a statement, Red Roof said “the parties came to a mutual resolution of this matter to avoid further litigation.”

“Red Roof condemns sex trafficking in all forms. The company mandates human trafficking training for its employees and franchisees, who are independent business owners and operators, to help educate them in identifying and reporting this criminal activity,” the statement said. “Red Roof is actively working with the hospitality industry through its alliances with AAHOA, AHLA, No Room for Trafficking Advisory Council, ECPAT and SOAP in the fight to prevent human trafficking.”

Asian Hospitality could not contact Varahi Hotels for a statement.