Red Roof Inn faces civil trial over sex trafficking allegations at two Atlanta locations

The Red Roof Inn location at the intersection of Buford Highway and N. Druid Hills Rd. is one of two named in an ongoing civil lawsuit claiming the company overlooked blatant human trafficking on the property. (Courtesy of

Updated June 13 at 5:13 p.m.

A first-of-its-kind civil trial could hold a national hotel chain liable for the company’s role in permitting human trafficking on its properties.

Jury selection got underway in the case brought by eleven plaintiffs against two Red Roof Inns in metro Atlanta and the companies that operated them.

Emma Hetherington is director of the University of Georgia School of Law Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic.

She said the signs of trafficking were far too obvious not to have been apparent to Red Roof Inn and the other corporate entities named in the suit.

“If you go to Google reviews or to Trip Advisor reviews you will see lots of reports of people saying, ‘This is definitely happening here, there is trafficking here, look at what I’m seeing on these properties,'” Hetherington said in an interview on “All Things Considered.”

She said federal law allows for punitive damages when individuals or corporations that profit from human trafficking knew — or could have known — it was happening.

Hetherington said employees have testified that at times, a majority of the hotel’s business came from trafficking transactions.

According to her, there has been an increase in the number of cases being brought against individual hotel owners, and if this case is successful it could bring about greater accountability for national hotel brands.

Red Roof sent the following statement to WABE:

“Red Roof denies and will vigorously defend these allegations, and condemns sex trafficking in all forms. Red Roof mandates the globally recognized PACT training module to help educate hotel staff to identify and report human trafficking to the authorities. Red Roof is actively working with the hospitality industry through its alliances with AAHOA, AHLA, No Room for Trafficking Advisory Council, PACT and SOAP in the fight to eradicate trafficking and the exploitation of victims.”

Christopher Alston contributed to this report.