Library Archives

 
Albert Pucciarelli

In my two prior articles on alternative dispute resolution, I discussed mediation and expert resolution. In ascending order in terms of "severity" of the matter in dispute, the next alternative for resolving disputes is arbitration. By "severity", I am referring to the either the complexity of the question to be resolved where legal interpretations, document discovery and witness testimony, even expert witness testimony, may be utilized by the parties to present their side of the dispute. In short, the matter to be arbitrated typically is not unlike matters over which parties go to court, but for reasons we will explore, arbitration may be preferable. Read on...

Charles B. Rosenberg

Investing abroad may present lucrative opportunities in the form of new markets and customers. Hospitality companies, however, often face unique challenges when doing business abroad. For example, in 2009, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the expropriation of a Hilton-run hotel on the resort island of Margarita in Venezuela to help develop tourism projects within a socialist framework. Similarly, in 2011, the Sri Lankan government declared ownership of a Hilton-run hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka following a rent-related dispute with the foreign investor. Hospitality companies considering investing abroad thus should be aware of the tools that may be available to protect their international investments. Read on...

Albert Pucciarelli

As a lawyer involved for over 30 years in the drafting and negotiation of contracts for the hospitality industry, I can assure you that disputes are inevitable. Even among parties such as owners and management companies that have the best working relationships, there will nevertheless be issues that cause discord. It is in how we resolve these matters that will determine if the relationship between the disputing parties will survive. If preservation of the contract and the relationship is desired, then the goal of both parties should be to resolve the matter quickly and efficiently, while also recognizing at the outset that neither of them is likely to be completely satisfied. Read on...

Lema Khorshid

It is no surprise that hospitality businesses often experience an uptick in customer traffic and interest as the weather warms, local residents emerge from their winter shells to frequent local hot spots and drive up to their familiar weekend getaway locations, and out-of-town tourists flood popular entertainment districts for days at a time seeking great hotels, restaurants and attractions. In fact, an annual report released by Adobe in May revealed that U.S. consumers are expected to spend $65 billion online on summer travel this year. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

Whether it is Hyatt Centric, Canopy by Hilton, AC Hotels by Marriot, Vib by Best Western Hotel, Radisson Red, or OE Collection from Loews Hotels, established hotel chains are deploying a new strategy to address the ever growing buying power of Millennials. These chains are creating new brands that specifically cater to Millennials. In fact, besides the established Hotel companies, new chains are being, or have been, created to address the Millennial generation, or there corporate ownership is being disguised. The focus on Millennials by hotel companies is not just a U.S. trend; it's worldwide. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

Although some claims of sexual harassment made by hotel and restaurant employees may not prove to be true, an employer's failure to properly address sexual harassment complaints may render the employer liable for significant damages to a prevailing employee. Once an employee has complained of sexual harassment, an internal investigation is necessary to address and resolve the claim. This article describes best practices to take when conducting an internal investigation of a sexual harassment claim. This article also describes policies and procedures an employer can implement to help avoid sexual harassment claims Read on...

Lonnie Giamela

One of the most common misconceptions employers have is that an employee can be paid a salary merely because of their position or title within the company. Many well-intentioned employers latch on to this misconception and end up paying salaries to "managers," "administrative assistants," or other employees with lofty titles even though the law dictates otherwise. Of course, this can lead to very expensive misclassification lawsuits. This article explores a specific sub-set of exemptions, the "white collar" exemptions, and explains how they are applied. It will also describe what a well-written job description looks like and why it is essential to avoiding and defending against employee lawsuits. Read on...

Judi Jarvis

As with most industries, there are myriad competing interests in the hospitality sector: developer vs. lender; franchisor vs. franchisee; operator vs. guest; owner vs. management company. The list, cynical as it may be, goes on. But there is one thing on which nearly all business people agree, and that unifies even the most divided of parties: lawyers kill deals. As a profession, we may have earned that reputation through negative comments about proposed transactions; advice based on theory and not practice; and a failure to put our clients ahead of ourselves. A good lawyer in the hands of a smart client, however, not only avoids killing deals but can be one of your best sales tools. Read on...

Michael Elkon

While defining a "hostile work environment" is generally commonplace for HR professionals, one new, emerging trend in the workplace is the filing by employees or their attorneys of assault and battery charges. The law regarding assault and battery in the civil context has existed for decades, but in recent years, lawyers representing employees have started to make use of these claims with increasing frequency. This article lists five primary reasons for this shift, along with enumerating six steps an employer should follow to protect his company against an assault and battery claim. Read on...

Marc Stephen Shuster

The United States Green Building Council estimates that buildings account for approximately ("~") 38% of carbon emissions, ~14% of potable water consumption, ~30% of waste output, ~40% of raw materials, and a significant portion of our energy consumption. In California, roughly 19% of all energy consumed is for water treatment and pumping for human consumption. These numbers hold true for hotels, resorts, and casinos in warm climates. Maximizing sustainability in a hotel, resort, or casino property takes time and a considerable upfront capital investment. Detailed, below, are some reasons why sustainable measures are a "must" in the nation's hospitality market. Read on...

Lonnie Giamela

Employees can make or break businesses in the service industry. While customer service oriented employees create a luxurious experience at a lesser establishment, employees that don't prioritize customer service can ruin a guest's experience even at the most finely-appointed hotel. However, managers and supervisors cannot always be present to recognize and reward desirable service practices, nor can they always be present identify and correct poor practices. With so many points of customer and employee interaction, surveillance is one of the most effective methods to safeguard employee safety and integrity, review employee performance, identify training points, and document "HR issues." Of course, too much of a good thing can be a problem. Employers must understand the difference between valid surveillance and illegal intrusions on privacy rights before taking advantage of video/audio recordings. This article aims to help employers stay on the right side of that fence. Read on...

John E. Thompson

A leading source of employment law liability today flows from failing to comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the wage-hour law of broadest application. The number of FLSA lawsuits and U.S. Labor Department investigations has skyrocketed. Court complaints alone total in the tens of thousands over the last decade, and the most-recent reporting year's tally of more than 8,000 new FLSA lawsuits - nearly a 5 percent increase - has continued this trend. Furthermore, since at least 2010, the Labor Department has viewed hotels, resorts and other lodging establishments as presenting a high risk for FLSA violations. It is therefore more likely than ever that an industry employer will face wage-hour claims. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

Record keeping did not make OSHA's Top Ten list of most frequently cited violations in 2013, nor in 2012. However, when the proposed record keeping changes go into effect, establishments will have significant incentive to ensure they are complying with OSHA recordkeeping rules and maintaining a safe workplace. Record keeping information provides an important safety and health summary for establishments, alerting them as to potential serious problems and serving as an opportunity to identify potential violations for correction before OSHA arrives and which may lead to other injuries, or worse, fatalities. Soon this information will be available to the public. Read on...

John Mavros

Have you ever scheduled an early-shift employee to cover for a late-shift employee who has just taken medical leave? The covering employee probably was not excited to have to work that extra shift. While the logistics of employee schedules can be difficult, it can be even more burdensome (and more important) to handle the employee's medical leave appropriately and in accordance with the law. What do hospitality employers need to be mindful of when an employee takes a medical leave? This article discusses some of the strategies and principles that employers can use when medical leave issues arise. Read on...

Kathleen Pohlid

The prevalence of workplace violence poses alarming concerns. Consider the statistics: OSHA reports nearly 2 million workers annually claim they are victims of workplace violence, with homicides as the fourth-leading cause of workplace fatalities and the leading cause of death for women in the workplace; Justice Department statistics show non-fatal incidents are even far more prevalent with approximately 1.7 million workplace violence incidents between 1993-1999; and in a 2012 survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management, 36% of the entities responding experienced incidents of workplace violence. The good news is there are measures to curb these risks. Read on...

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.