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Megan Walker

The California legislature recently passed SB 970, which requires hotel and motel employers in the state to provide 20 minutes of human trafficking awareness training to all employees by Jan. 1, 2020. While the penalties for non-compliance are minor (an order mandating compliance), no establishment wants to become a hotbed for trafficking activities. In this article, Attorney Megan E. Walker reviews the issue of trafficking in hotels, the new training requirements under SB 970 and indicators of trafficking that may be helpful for hotel staff to identify victims. Read on...

James O'Brien

These days, there is a lot of negativity surrounding U.S. immigration, and it couldn't come at a worse time. The hospitality industry is straining for qualified human resources in what is otherwise a golden age of expansion and record profits. From stricter new approval standards, visa caps, and government processing delays, to caravans and divisive border wall politics, it's difficult in this environment to find reasons to be optimistic about acquiring talent from abroad and being able to secure lawful employment-authorized status for them. But the U.S. immigration system, which many observers perceive to be "broken," nevertheless still offers opportunities for astute hospitality executives to help keep up with the talent demand curve. Read on...

John Mavros

Hotel Managers are on the frontlines of preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation from occurring in the workplace. They are in the best position to spot warning signs that harassment may be occurring and they are most likely to be the first person an employee confides in with a complaint. As such, it is important that managers are equipped to stop harassment and any future harassment lawsuits in their tracks. This article details a "5 Step Plan for Managers" in the midst of the growing #MeToo movement to help them foster harassment free workplaces. Read on...

Bruce Liebman

Hotels are increasingly being hit with lawsuits claiming discrimination against disabled individuals in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The lawsuits are being filed by what are called ADA testers-individuals who visit businesses intentionally looking for non-compliance with the requirements of the ADA. Common complaints involve architectural barriers in the parking lot (e.g., inadequate or no handicap parking spaces) and lack of handicap accessible restrooms). This article evaluates access claims under the ADA in the hospitality industry, how to defend these claims and the significance and impact of a recent decision on future hotel-related ADA discrimination cases. Read on...

Ashley Halberda

In light of the "Me Too" and "Times Up" movement, recently passed County Hotel Worker Protection Act of 2018 will be requiring hotels to develop, maintain, and comply with new sexual harassment policies. With this new industry-wide pledge, hotel leaders agreed to enforce stronger safety and security measures for hotel employees. One of the ways they plan to carry this mission is through the use of safety devices known as "panic buttons." These new laws and regulations come at a pretty steep price to hotel employers, we want you to know what you can do to ensure you're protected. Read on...

Dana Kravetz

Hotel and resorts are jumping on the gig economy bandwagon, satisfying their short-term employment needs by (literally) tapping into the ever-growing pool of freelance hospitality workers available via app or online. But as more and more hoteliers avail themselves to the flexibility and considerable costs savings that are part and parcel to the on-demand staffing model, they are wading into potentially perilous waters, with legal and reputational issues lurking just below the surface. Here, a light is shined on would-be problems inherent in the gig economy that management should be mindful of. Read on...

John R. Hunt

In recent years, employers in the hospitality industry have faced an onslaught of claims and litigation under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law that establishes minimum wage and overtime requirements. Among the kinds of cases that employers have confronted are those alleging violations of the Department of Labor's "80/20" rule for tipped employees. This "rule" provided that an employer could not take a "tip credit" where a tipped employee spent over 20 percent of his or her time on activities that did not directly generate tips. The following discusses the rule and the significant changes made by the DOL. Read on...

Todd Soloway

Corporate M&A activity has skyrocketed in recent years. By some estimates, global deals are projected to surpass $4 trillion by the end of 2018, which would be the highest amount ever recorded in a single year. The hospitality industry has seen a similar surge in mega-deals over the last several years. While economic factors have contributed to this rise, hospitality has also been shaped by industry-specific influences that are driving companies to acquire and consolidate with others. This article will examine common legal issues that arise during M&A transactions involving hospitality companies and will offer guidance on how both sides of a deal should address the risks and liabilities. Read on...

John Mavros

Hotels go to great lengths to present a carefully crafted image to their guests and, hotel employees play an integral role in making a mere marketing strategy become a revenue generating reality. One way to ensure that employees effectively communicate the hotel's desired image can be accomplished by a written dress code and personal appearance policy. This policy can be as detailed as management desires. Regardless, to avoid liability, hotels need to be aware of both state and federal laws that govern gender, gender identity, gender expression and religious expression, in the workplace and how those laws interact with their dress code policy. Read on...

Steven D. Weber

In the hospitality industry it is crucial to have the right employees. The right employees may enable a hospitality player to provide an ideal environment for its customers that may leave a lasting impression that will lead to future business. To retain employees, hospitality players may consider entering into a no-poach agreement. A no-poach agreement between hospitality players may be, among other things, an agreement that two players agree not to hire employees from each other. Such agreements may be unlawful, and hospitality players should be wary of them and consult with legal counsel before entering into them. Read on...

Christine Samsel

The past twelve months have seen a significant uptick in the volume of cases filed related to website accessibility issues, with the most recent trend being claims by disabled prospective employees for inaccessible online job search and application processes that allegedly render them unable to browse and apply for open positions. Attorneys Christine Samsel and Jonathan Sandler provide legal insight on this trend and what business leaders can do to protect their company from these types of claims… Read on...

Luna Phillips

As fresh water supplies across the country stretch thinner due to a confluence of factors, hotel developers and managers are getting squeezed. An increasing focus on water conservation from consumers and both state and local regulators has its benefits, but also creates economic drawbacks for hotel executives by decreasing the supply and increasing the price of water. This added cost raises the price of admission for both owners and consumers, but armed with the correct information and tactics, hotel executives can shrewdly save valuable dollars while playing by these new rules. Read on...

Dana Kravetz

Hoteliers in the Golden State better pay heed to a recent decision by the California Supreme Court and think twice before neglecting to pay workers for routine, albeit trivial, duties that are handled off the clock. The ruling in Troester v. Starbucks Corporation severely limits a hotel or resort operator's ability to rely on the so-called "de minimis defense," an argument that California employers have, for years, successfully asserted in wage and hour litigation brought by employees seeking compensation for brief tasks undertaken pre- or post-shift. As the author explains, hospitality employers, in the wake of Troester, are encouraged to leverage available technology to capture all of the time their employees actually work on any given day. Read on...

John Mavros

This article discusses the top five ways hotels get served with disability discrimination lawsuits. Disability discrimination lawsuits are on the rise and one of the best ways to protect your hotel from getting served with a lawsuit is to assure that hoteliers fully understand obligations under the various leave laws and that their managers are trained properly on those obligations. Maintaining written policies, memorializing any verbal communications with employees, documenting analyses of possible accommodations, and recording any accommodations or leaves of absences ultimately provided are essential steps for avoiding costly litigation. Read on...

Steven D. Weber

Some people say that there is no such thing as bad press. However, in some cases, bad press could potentially damage a brand and continue damaging a brand now that information available on the internet may never be erased – or forgotten. A hospitality player’s response to bad press should include formulating a plan beforehand so that a hospitality player may respond to bad press in an organized manner. Once any bad press is discovered, the next step may be determining how best to respond. Certain bad press may be actionable to the extent that a hospitality player may seek relief from it through a lawsuit. Read on...

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Coming up in July 2019...

Hotel Spa: Pursuing Distinction

The Wellness Movement continues to evolve and hotel spas continue to innovate in order to keep pace. Fueled by intense competition within the industry, hotel spas are seeking creative ways to differentiate themselves in the market. An increasing number of customers are searching for very specific, niche treatments that address their particular health concerns and, as a result, some leading spas have achieved distinction by offering only one specialized treatment. Meditation and mindfulness practices are becoming increasingly mainstream as are alternative treatments and therapies, such as Ayurvedic therapies, Reiki, energy work and salt therapy. Some spas specialize in stress management and offer lifestyle coaching sessions as part of their program.  Other spas are fully embracing new technologies as a way to differentiate themselves, such as providing wearable devices that track health and fitness biomarkers, or robots programmed with artificial intelligence to control spa environments, or virtual reality add-ons that transport guests to relaxing places around the world. Some spas have chosen to specialize in medical procedures such as liposuction, laser skin therapy, phototherapy facials, Botox and facial fillers, acupuncture and permanent hair removal, in addition to cosmetic body shaping procedures and  teeth whitening treatments. Similarly, other spas are offering comprehensive health check-ups and counseling services for those who are interested in disease prevention treatments. Finally, as hotel spas continue to become more diverse, accessible and specialized, there is a growing demand for health professionals with a specific area of expertise. There is a proliferation of top class, quality wellness practitioners who make a name for themselves by offering their services around the globe, including athletes, chefs, doctors, physical trainers and weight loss specialists. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.