Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hospitality Industry Property Risks: Boston Hotel Parking Garage Fire Caused By Contractor’s Welding Torch; Additional Safety Concerns Discovered

“… an independent contractor was in the basement of the parking garage building a new restaurant when a welding torch malfunctioned, causing the small fire…”

“…Boston fire say they discovered that some of the exhaust fans were not working and gave the hotel until the end of the day to fix them or risk being shut down. Fire officials also said it appeared a standpipe was leaking and it had to be fixed…”

A major Boston hotel has addressed some safety concerns after they were discovered while crews battled a small parking garage fire on Monday. The fire broke out in Level 1 of the Westin Hotel garage just after 10 a.m. Monday, according to Boston fire. The fire started on a control knob of a 3-foot high acetylene tank, and fire crews doused the tank to keep it cool, according to Boston fire.

Boston fire’s Steve MacDonald said the contractor had the proper permits for the torches, but they will be amended to include a fire watch any time welding is taking place at the site.

Jorgensen said the exhaust fans have been fixed. Water that was believed to be leaking from a standpipe was actually from the fire department’s hoses, Jorgensen said.

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Hotel Management Must Perform Regular “Self-Audits” To Determine If Company Is Properly Classifying Workers As Employees Or Independent Contractors

“(The hotel) industry in particular has a tradition of using staffing companies and other staffing arrangements to provide workers, and I think that industry tradition has provided problems for some hotel companies,”

“Hotel companies need to be ahead of the law…do a self-audit … If you’re not compliant, you can take remedial measures to avoid fines from the Department of Labor.”

As the U.S. Department of Labor under the Obama administration is cracking down harder on violations, staying informed about employee misclassification is crucial for hotel operators if they want to avoid costly fines, according to employment attorneys.

Because employment laws often can be complicated, Feldstein suggests employers classify employees themselves by applying the “Right-to-Control” test.

The Right-to-Control test compares the ends versus the means in producing the work the employee was hired to do. If the employer is concerned with only the end result, the employee should be classified an independent contractor.

However, if the employer controls the means and methods of the project in addition to establishing the routine and schedule, it is likely the worker should be classified an employee.

Should an employer need further information, the U.S. Department of Labor website contains basic guidelines that serve as a good starting point, Chapman said.

“There are HR organizations such as (the Society for Human Resource Management) that conduct training and research and guidance on this law and others, which can be helpful,” he said.

Applying the law to a specific set of facts to determine whether or not that individual should be classified as an employee or independent contractor might require the help of an actual practicing attorney, Chapman said.

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

Hospitality Industry Crime Risks: Pennsylvania Hotel Evacuated After “Meth Lab” Chemicals And Materials Discovered In Third-Floor Room

“…Hotels and motels are increasingly used by meth-makers because the chemicals used – which can include lighter fuel, lye, lithium, and acetone, among other dangerous substances – seep into fabrics, furniture, and floors, according the Department of Justice website…” 

“You basically destroy someone’s hotel room, and then you leave.”

At least 300 guests were evacuated from the Hampton Inn at 1301 Race St. about 5:30 a.m. as first Philadelphia firefighters, then the Police Department’s homeland security and terrorism unit arrived to handle the volatile chemicals left behind by a would-be meth-maker.

Investigators discovered in a third-floor room the chemicals and materials used in the “one-pot” or “shake-and-bake” method of producing the dangerous, highly addictive stimulant.

The procedure can result in toxic fumes and explosions, leave behind a dangerous trail of chemicals, and render the room uninhabitable.

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Hospitality Industry Alcohol Risks: Mississippi Casino Resort And Spa Sued For $75 Million By Family Of Man Who Died After Consuming “Free Drinks”

The suit claims casino workers kept serving free drinks to 30-year-old Bryan Lee Glenn in August 2009, ignoring pleas from the drunken man’s family to stop serving him. 

A lawsuit claims a Mississippi casino served so much alcohol to a man taking powerful prescription painkillers that he died on the floor of his hotel bathroom. The lawsuit against IP Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Gulfport. It seeks damages of $75 million.

The suit says Glenn died in his hotel room. He’d taken prescribed painkillers including Percocet, morphine and Xanax, as well as antipsychotic medications in the three weeks before his death, the lawsuit says. He was being treated for physical injuries as well as psychosis and hallucinations. Glenn had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a 2004 four-wheeler accident, then suffered back injuries in a 2007 car wreck.

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Filed under Claims, Guest Issues, Health, Insurance, Liability, Management And Ownership, Training

Hospitality Industry Security Risks: Florida Hotel Security Cameras Capture Armed Robbery Suspects In Action (Video)

Two armed men are on the run after police say they pulled of a hotel heist.

Security cameras captured every moment of the robbery at the Howard Johnson hotel on 50th Street in Tampa.

The footage shows the men make their way from the back of the hotel to the front office, where they force the clerk to empty the cash register at gunpoint. The suspects even take the handsets off the phones to keep the clerk from calling for help.

“These individuals are armed and they’re very determined and were very aggressive,” said Tampa police spokesperson Laura McElroy.

Both men were smart enough to cover their faces while they pulled off the crime, but one of them waited to mask up until after he scoped out the hotel lobby. That footage is giving police at least one clear shot of one of the men.
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Filed under Crime, Labor Issues, Liability, Management And Ownership, Theft

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Chicago Hotel And Restaurant Sued For $500,000 In Wrongful Death Lawsuit

“…The 10-count lawsuit, which seeks more than $500,000 in compensation for Duskey’s wrongful death, names Hilton Worldwide, the Palmer House Hilton, Surreal Chicago and Adrenaline Y2K as the party hosts…Megan Duskey fell four floors to her death after she tried to slide down a railing at the Palmer House Hilton…”

The parents of a former Crete woman who fell to her death at a “Haunted Hotel Ball” at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago in 2010 are suing the hotel and the event hosts. James and Deborah Duskey claim in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court that the death of their daughter Megan at the Halloween-themed ball was due to the negligence of the hotel and the event companies who hosted the party.

The lawsuit claims the hotel and event hosts allowed people at the ball to “consume unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages” after they paid for a ticket and failed to provide security to protect the patrons of the ball.

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Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: Illinois Hotel Sued For Negligence By Man In “Slip And Fall” Accident; Claims Permanent Injuries

“…(hotel  is accused) of negligence for allegedly failing to keep the hotel lobby floor clean and dry. He says he has suffered — and will continue to suffer — physical and mental pain and anguish. Cattani is asking for an undetermined amount of money for medical expenses and lost income in addition to court costs…”

A Collinsville man claims the “carelessness” of owners and managers of a local hotel led him to slip and fall in the lobby. Bobby Cattani filed a lawsuit July 10 in Madison County Circuit Court against Lodging Hospitality Management, doing business as Doubletree Hotel. Hotel owner, Colhot LLC, is also named as a defendant.

Just after 11 p.m. on Aug. 2, 2010, Cattani says he slipped and fell on a “liquid substance that had accumulated on the floor” of the Doubletree Hotel on Eastport Plaza Drive. He says he severely and permanently injured numerous parts of his body along with his nervous system.

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