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I work at a hotel in the United States (Georgia). Some of our rooms are pretty nice while others are in desperate need of maintenance, pest control, etc. The owner of the hotel regularly tells me not to rent the nice rooms to locals. If we only have nice rooms left, I'm supposed to tell them that we have no vacancies. Even though I understand his reasoning to some extent (locals often will not treat the rooms as well as out of town guests, so give them the rooms that are already beat up) it still feels wrong to discriminate this way. I was just wondering, is it legal to do this?

  • (1) Do they come in with a reservation for a certain type of room, and receive a lesser type? (2) Lying about no vacancies would be the basis of a good question, apart from the "geographic-discrimination" angle. – Ben Voigt Oct 1 '15 at 23:12
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I'm not going to comment on what your manager is doing specifically, since I don't know all the facts. But in general:

  1. As a general rule, businesses have freedom of contract. This means they can choose to do business with, or not do business with, anyone they want.

  2. There are specific laws that create exceptions to this freedom of contract. The most important are federal and state civil rights laws, which prohibit many businesses from discriminating on the basis of certain protected classes, such as race, sex, religion, etc.

In general, "locals vs. out-of-towners" is not a protected class, and therefore no law explicitly prohibits this type of discrimination. However, it's possible a court could find that "locals" is a proxy for some actual protected class--for example, if the hotel is in a city and the "locals" are predominantly Black.

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    In the specific case of mortgage lending, the practice of using geographic location as a proxy for race is sometimes called redlining. – Nate Eldredge Oct 3 '15 at 20:51

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