Anti-Military Discrimination: Real Issue or Not?

Hope this is the right forum for this.

I work at a hotel. Our rate tonight for a room with one king-sized bed is $64.99, plus tax. During the busy season, it’s $79.99 for the same room. We also have a few discounts available: AAA, AARP, etc. This includes a government/military rate, which, unlike the other discounts, is a fixed rate, $65.00, whereas the other discounts are percentages of the “rack,” or regular, rate. Like I said, our rack rate for the busier times of the year is $79.99, so the military rate is usually a significant discount, but not at this time of year, when, as you can see, the military rate is actually one penny higher.

This isn’t as odd as it seems because in my (admittedly limited) dealings with the government personnel that come through the hotel, they’re not looking for a good deal so much as they’re looking for consistency. They like knowing that whenever they stay here, whatever time of year it is (even during PGA or some other big event, when most hotels raise their rates) they’re always going to pay the same rate, with no nasty seasonal surprises.

So (finally getting to the point), a few minutes ago, this guy comes in, I tell him the rate, and then he asks about the military discount. I told him that we have one, but that it’s actually (very) slightly higher than the regular rate. The first thing out of his mouth after I said this was, “Why? Do you discriminate against the military?” Well, of course, we don’t, and I told him this. He seemed to accept that and didn’t make a big fuss over it, so no harm done. But it made me wonder: is there much discrimination against the military going on these days? Especially here in Oklahoma? I mean, did this guy have a legitimate reason to suspect that we were discriminating against him, or was it just an idiotic knee-jerk reaction? Some places may not have a government or military discount, but I can’t imagine a hotel (or other business) that would go out of their way to charge military personnel more than other guests.

Any members of the military here have stories about being discriminated against in this manner?

Well, theres always a bit in the towns around bases, nothing too serious, but a bunch of drunk 18-20 year olds get a certain reputation, but certainly nothing official like ‘Military pays higher prices’ or ‘no military allowed’, though there were a few clubs that wouldn’t allow people in uniforms in, the few times people tried wearing them.

I’m betting the guy was just very surprised that the military rate was higher than the regular rate(since you said it was higher before you stated by how much, and why). Were I him I wouldn’t have accused you of discrimination, but I would have been extremely puzzled, because it never, ever works that way.

I believe that all the hotel chains set their military/government rate based upon the Federal per diem guidelines for expense reimbursement. I have never had a problem with with a hotel offering me a lower rate (if I was eligible for one) than my military rate.

I have been in States where I was not allowed the lowest military rate, as that was reserved for National Guard members of that State. Presumably, they will be reimbursed for their travel by the State and not the Federal government.

I think this guy had a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t know if I’m right or wrong on this, but I’ve always presumed that the military/government rate was for when you are travelling on orders, and not for pleasure.

What CJ said. The idea of a fixed-price rate for military personnel is a very odd one to me, and probably to that guy, too. I’d have expected a straight percentage discount on whatever your nightly rate was.

ETA: Are we talking about a general military discount - like the AARP rate - or a rate for government employees that will be reimbursed?

I live in Port Townsend Washington, one of the most liberal towns in the USA. We have the most hybrid cars per capita!

Anyways, a marine military recruiter told me the employees at the local McDonalds refused to come to the front register to take his order. He might have been lying…it seems really far fetched…but that’s what he said.

The military and Government contractors have established per diem rates for anywhere they have to go as approved by the General Services Administration (GSA) IIRC. I have had situations where I’ve gone to a hotel and been told that ‘all their available military rooms are taken at that rate’ for large conferences, which seems strange because I thought they weren’t allowed to only set up a block of rooms at a rate like that if they still had some available, but that may have been an isolated incident specific to a non-chain hotel (which this was) in Virginia.

Plus, if someone is on military or Federal business, they shouldn’t have to pay the federal taxes on the room, so the fed/military rate may still be cheaper.

He’d hardly be the first person, military or not, to get shitty service from some snot-nosed kid at a McDonald’s.

I’ve traveled on the government dime a lot and never heard of this.

Are there federal taxes on hotel/motel rooms? I’ve only heard of state and local taxes in the US.

I have no idea if it’s universal - I used to run a hotel in Florida and I’ve never heard of it either - but in New York State, at least, state and Federal employees are exempt from state and local room taxes.

No, except those built into the price.

I don’t know about idiotic. I would call it incredulous.

We pay for everything you guys pay for, as far as fees go. When we use state toll roads, we pay for that. We pay sales tax too, just like civilians do. That goes for official duty as well as off-duty stuff.

I don’t think I’ve ever been discriminated against by a business for being military. By civilians, sure, all the time, but not establishments.

Not so. I get all kinds of discounts with my military ID. Of course, I’m sure that somewhere there are discounts that only apply to official business, but I can’t recall any right now.

Massachusetts is one of the more liberal states but I live close to the Massachusetts National Guard headquarters and see soldiers in gear, mostly reservists, around all the time in stores, restaurants, and everywhere else. Nobody ever bats an eye or gives them a hard time for it. The reverse is usually true and they get thanks and preferential treatment even from other customers. I think the Vietnam War made a long-term impression on the American psyche that you never disrespect an American soldier, male or female, without proper cause at the individual level in the past few years. It seems to have worked and I never hear of anyone making fun of soldiers in general. I am sure that it happens in some places but

I am positive discriminating against a soldier isn’t going to go over well around here. It simply isn’t done on an institutional scale and there are always plenty of bystanders willing to stand up for them no matter what the issue is no matter how small. You can find isolated examples of just about anything if you try hard enough but the various ‘Support the Troups’ campaigns have seemed to work very well.

I misspoke - the exemption is for state tax, but not everywhere:

I’d have to ask my manager to be sure, but I think the intention is for the guest to be reimbursed by whatever flavor of government they work for, because, as I understand it, the rate is only for people who are traveling on government business. Of course, we give the rate to a lot of people who shouldn’t really be getting it, like postal workers on vacation, just because it’s easier than arguing, and because things are so slow this time of year, we just want to get people in the hotel.

Yeah, that seems odd. The only discount our chain sets limits on is the employee rate. We also have limited numbers of rooms for wedding parties and family reunions and that kind of thing, but that’s a different situation.

When we have the National Guard Reserves here, they have tax-exempt forms that we keep on file. The guy from last night, though, was just traveling through with his wife, so that wouldn’t have applied to him. But yes, you’re right, in situations where tax-exemption applies that would make it cheaper in the end.

We charge a five-percent hotel occupancy tax that I believe is federally mandated. That’s on top of state and local sales taxes.

Yeah, I think things vary from state to state. Some of the tax-exemption rules can be really confusing. Especially when it comes to schools.

I’m wondering if some places have both the fixed rate for people on government business and a percentage discount for off-duty government employees.

There is anti-military discrimination, and it is a real issue, but not in the way that has been mentioned so far.

Reservists and members of the National Guard are guaranteed job protection while they are activated - but in practice this has proven terribly difficult to enforce. Employers often aren’t aware of the law in this area, or violate it betting the servicemember will find the notion of pursuing a claim unattractive.

Also, there is an institutional anti-military bias in certain communities and college campuses in this country - and this bias does extend to the individual servicemember.

The second thing is a mere annoyance in the grand scheme of things - the first thing is a genuine problem that will likely require more training or sanctions against companies to rectify.

You raise an interesting point regarding the violation of job protection. It is similar to maternity leave protections afforded in many countries. Someone can be the most pro-war / pro-family person out there, but when it starts hurting their bottom line it’s a different story…

I’m in the army and once when I wanted a room at a local motel they told me it would be more expensive, because the nearby base had AIT students that were notorious for destroying rooms at that motel in particular. I must say that I’ve never really been personally discriminated against for being in the military, quite the opposite, I get discounts at many places, sometimes at establishments that don’t have an official policy of military discounts. I get a lot of “thank you for your service” comments when I’m in uniform too.

You’re absolutely right. I forgot all about that one. SCRAprotections go out the window frequently. It nearly happened to me. Luckily, there was an open space when I came back so they sorta “rehired” me. If there was no slot, I’m sure I would’ve lost my job. And it’s amazingly tough to prove that your service/deployment was the reason for the layoff.

And yes, this is a real issue, not something to take lightly.

My dad told me a story (no idea if it’s true, and it would have taken place in the '50s and/or '60s) about a police chief south of Coronado. (There’s FLEASWTRACENPAC, NAS North Island, and the amphib base in the area.) The chief instructed LEOs to concentrate on issuing speeding tickets to sailors, since they’d have to pay the fines instead of going to jail. Dad said that the base (whichever one) Commander got fed up with the treatment of his men, and countered by allowing them leave. The chief soon found out how expensive it was to lock up and feed the sailors.

Is it true? Sounds like a sea tale to me.