Library Archives

 
Steven D. Weber

Interests in the hotel industry are bought and sold. Contracts in furtherance of the sale of those interests may contain restrictive covenants. In some cases, restrictive covenants might take the form of contractual provisions that, among other things, restrict competition from a new owner or prevent certain uses. Use of a restrictive covenant may lead to litigation when one party contends that another party is in violation of a restrictive covenant. Hospitality industry players should be aware of the risks associated with restrictive covenants, and aware of the hospitality-related litigation that can result from them. Read on...

John Mavros

Regardless of the number of employment law best practices a hotel successfully embraces, one factor can be a strong indicator for future litigation – a problematic, underperforming employee. Therefore, one the best ways to protect your hotel from litigation is to hire right at the outset. In the chaos of peak season, it may be tempting to impulsively hire the first application for help received; however, hiring is a process that should not be rushed. An employee who fails to meet performance expectations or mesh with the hotel's company culture, not only can create a toxic environment at work for other employees but will likely harbor resentment which frequently motivates litigation. Read on...

Dana Kravetz

Way back when, on June 10, 1963, then-President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act into law – a bold piece of legislation that amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and requires that men and women be given equal pay for equal work within the same establishment. Fast-forward fifty-plus years, and it's apparent that work remains to be done. Today, females in the workplace earn 80% less than white men, with women of color faring much worse. And while the hospitality industry performs better than the national average in terms of the gender pay gap, disparities remain that must be stamped out once and for all. Read on...

John Mavros

Many turn to Starbucks for a caffeinated wakeup call every morning. However, given a recent court ruling, Starbucks now serves as a wakeup call for employers who need to improve their timekeeping practices. This article examines the landmark California Supreme Court decision in Troester v. Starbucks, which illustrates just how important it is to capture every minute that an employee works - even time that seems short and trivial, or also known as "de minimis." This article will explore the lessons learned from Starbucks and further outline best timekeeping practices that all hotels should consider implementing to avoid an employment wage-hour lawsuit. Read on...

Steven D. Weber

A trademark can be a recognizable sign or design that defines a brand. Protecting that trademark can be crucial to a hospitality player attracting guests and maintaining a competitive edge. A hospitality player's success may lead to imitation from competitors. That imitation may lead to infringement of a hospitality player's trademark. Protecting any trademark should be a priority for hospitality players. Failing to protect a trademark can lead to waiving rights and claims that a hospitality player may use to enforce its trademark rights. Hospitality players should seek to understand whether any threats exist to their trademark rights and take appropriate action in response to those threats. Read on...

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...

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Coming up in December 2019...

Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.