Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Wisconsin Restaurant Sued By EEOC For “Racial Discrimination” And “Wrongful Termination”

“..(the restaurant management) made a bad situation worse by firing the man who had the guts to stand up to it…the EEOC will stand up for people (like this employee)…”

“…the EEOC is seeking back pay, job reinstatement, compensatory and punitive damages…”

A restaurant in Menomonie, Wis., is being sued by the federal government because its managers posted images of a noose, a Klan hood and other racist depictions that prompted a black employee to complain and then be fired. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) lawsuit, filed Tuesday against the owners of Sparx Restaurant & Bar, alleges that Dion Miller was fired in retaliation for complaining about the racist atmosphere that the images conveyed.

According to the suit:

Miller arrived for a regular shift and found taped to the cooler a picture of black actor Gary Coleman and a dollar bill that was defaced with a noose around the neck of a black-faced George Washington. Also on the dollar bill were swastikas and the image of a man in a Ku Klux Klan hood.

Sparx’s managers told Miller that they had posted the images the evening before and insisted that it was just “a joke.”

Miller was fired within weeks of complaining for allegedly having “a bad attitude.”

The suit was filed after an attempt at a settlement with the restaurant’s owner, Northern Star Hospitality Inc., failed.

“Sparx bills itself as a ‘family restaurant’ even as its managers posted imagery which evokes shameful memories of racially motivated physical attacks and lynchings,” John Hendrickson, regional attorney for the Chicago district of the EEOC, said in a statement Wednesday announcing the lawsuit.

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Filed under Employment Practices Liability, Insurance, Labor Issues, Liability, Management And Ownership

Hospitality Industry Health Risks: Alabama Restaurant Guests Are Exposed To “Hepatitis A” Through An “Infected Employee”

Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads from person-to-person. It is spread almost exclusively through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or via contaminated food or water. Symptoms may not occur for several weeks after exposure and may include abdominal discomfort, fever, malaise, muscle aches, and a yellowing of the skin called jaundice. In rare cases, hepatitis A causes liver failure.

In the wake of a report linking a potential mass exposure of hepatitis A to a Northport McDonald’s restaurant, food safety expert and attorney William Marler is calling on McDonald’s to vaccinate its employees against the virus.

On March 28, the Alabama Department of Public Health released a statement indicating that people who ate at a Northport McDonald’s, located at 2000 McFarland Boulevard, from February 28 through March 14 may have been exposed to hepatitis A through an infected employee. Customers who ate breakfast at the McDonald’s on March 16 may also have been exposed.

Hepatitis A is the only foodborne illness for which a vaccine exists; however infection can only be prevented if the vaccine is given within 14 days of exposure. Therefore those individuals who were potentially exposed on March 14 and March 16 should contact a medical provider immediately to receive treatment. Those who may have been exposed prior to March 14 should have developed symptoms by now if they have contracted the virus.

“From both a public health perspective and business perspective, it makes sense for restaurants to vaccinate their employees against hepatitis A,” said Marler. “It is much simpler to take the initial proactive precaution rather than gamble on a mass scare that equates to potential illness, loss of business, and public uncertainty.”

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Filed under Food Illnesses, Guest Issues, Health, Insurance, Labor Issues, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Property Risks: New York Elevator Mechanic Dies When Electrocuted During Maintenance Work Near Control Panel

“…(He) was performing maintenance in the engine room on the ninth floor of  the Axa Equitable building …when he was electrocuted just  after 9:30 p.m…”  

Con Edison was called to the scene for safety reasons, an  agency spokesman said, but it was unclear how the man came into contact with  live wires in the room that houses a control panel and a riser that works to  operate the building’s 34 elevators.

A 39-year-old elevator mechanic died when he was electrocuted at work in a  44-story midtown office building Wednesday night, fire and police officials  said.  Emergency responders found  the repairman unconscious and in cardiac arrest, a fire official said.  But  he died less than 30 minutes later, according to a police source.
“He’s  dead,” a fire source at the scene said. “He was lying on live  wires.”
Building workers said the man had been employed for the past five  years by the Schindler Group – a company that develops, installs and services  elevators and escalators, according to its website – which contracts with the  building to supply in-house mechanics to keep up with repairs.
“He has  three kids, it’s horrible,” said one coworker said. “He was a very nice guy. He  was hardworking and smart,” he said of his fallen friend. “But no one knows what  happened.”
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Filed under Injuries, Insurance, Labor Issues, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

Hospitality Industry Employee Risks: Alabama Hotel Clerk, With Prior Arrest Record, Arrested For Stealing Guest Credit Card Informatiom

Rains says Niles got the guests information from the hotels computer database and used it for more than just their rooms.

A Mobile hotel clerk is behind bars. The Mobile Police Department says he was doing more than checking guests in, he was using their credit card information.

“While working as a front desk clerk at a local hotel he actually stole credit card information from one victim who had previously stayed at the hotel,” said Rains.

“He used this information to book hotels for him and his friends and we were actually able to catch him,” said Rains.

This wasn’t Niles first time. He has been arrested several times for charges like identity theft and possession of a forged instrument.

“He was on probation for the same crimes when he committed these,” said Rains.

Police say Niles charged a significant amount of money. Thankfully the victim was monitoring the transactions.

“As a safeguard just to make sure that your credit cards aren’t being used fraudulently the best thing you can do is check your accounts and alert your credit card provider if you’d see anything fraudulent,” said Rains.

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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Liability, Management And Ownership, Privacy, Theft

Hospitality Industry Security Risks: California Hotel Evacuated Due To “Abandoned Suitcase” Bomb Threat

The suitcase was ruled harmless by bomb squad personnel after an X-ray determined that clothes and other personal items were inside. They would later destroy it with a high-powered water canon.

An abandoned suitcase that forced the evacuation of the Georgian Hotel and nearby buildings for nearly four hours on Monday was determined to be harmless, Santa Monica police said.  The suitcase was left in the Ocean Avenue hotel at approximately 9:30 a.m. by a man who said he was leaving it for a person staying at the establishment.

Hotel employees said that no name matching that person was on the hotel’s registry, prompting the man to flee. Alarmed by the incident, staff members called the police who ultimately called in the L.A. County Sheriff’s bomb squad to investigate the situation, SMPD spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis said.

The evacuations came just as the Senior Center was preparing to serve free lunch, forcing nearly 55 seniors and five staff members to flee the building, employees said.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: ADA “Pool Lift” Product And Installation Demonstration Video

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Filed under Guest Issues, Legislation, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Pool And Spa, Risk Management, Training

Hospitality Industry Property Risks: Minnesota Hotel Kitchen “Oil Fryer Fire” Causes $100,000 In Damage

“The oil in the fryer reached its ignition temperature; the employees tried to extinguish the fire with a fire extinguisher, which was ineffective against the burning oil.”  

A fire in a Pannekoeken restaurant fryer at the Days Inn Hotel in downtown Rochester on Saturday morning caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.  Firefighters were called to the hotel, located at 6 First Ave. N.W., at 6:17 a.m., said Rochester Deputy Fire Chief Steve Belau. Employees had been opening the kitchen for the day, and had started the fryer when the mishap happened.
“After a time the fryer was noted to be boiling excessively (and) efforts by employees to shut down the fryer were unsuccessful,” Belau said.

The built-in fire extinguisher system slowed the fire, but was overcome when the fire became too large, Belau said. When firefighters arrived, there was smoke in the main floor and fire in the exhaust hood area of the kitchen. Fire was coming out of the exhaust vent on the outside.
Firefighters used two large portable fire extinguishers. At first, each time they knocked it down, it came back, Belau said. Also, it was unusually hot and smoky inside the kitchen. “Oil fires are very difficult to extinguish due to the unusually high temperatures associated with them,” he said.

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Filed under Claims, Fire, Insurance, Labor Issues, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management