Monthly Archives: September 2012

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Texas Restaurant Chain Sued By EEOC For Firing “Pregnant Employees Under A Discriminatory Written Policy”

“…According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Maryann Castillo and other female workers were laid off after the third month of their pregnancies under a written policy, set out in Bayou City Wings’ employee handbook…”

JC Wings Enterprises, LLC, doing business as Bayou City Wings, a Baytown-based restaurant chain, violated federal law when its managers laid off pregnant employees under a discriminatory policy, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today.

  Bayou City Wings owns and operates restaurants in Baytown, Houston and surrounding areas.  The company’s district manager laid off Castillo pursuant to the policy even though she had provided a doctor’s note that indicated she could work up to the 36th week of her pregnancy and that her doctor had not placed any restrictions on her ability to work.

During the EEOC’s investigation of a discrimination charge brought by Castillo, Bayou City Wings named eight female employees who were laid off from work because of their pregnancies.  According to a Bayou City Wings general store manager, for a manager to keep a pregnant employee at work any longer would “be irresponsible in respect to her child’s safety” and would jeopardize his position with the company “for not following procedures.”

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex or pregnancy.  The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No. 4:12-cv-02885) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.   The EEOC seeks an injunction, back pay with pre-judgment interest, reinstatement or front pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial.

For more:  http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/9-12-26d.cfm

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Filed under Insurance, Labor Issues, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: Hotel Guests At Risk Of Injury As Shower Door Glass Can Shatter With The “Force Of An Explosion”

“…court records (documented)…a federal lawsuit filed earlier this year against the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. A woman, who stayed at the hotel in 2007, says she opened a shower door and suddenly “the force of an explosion” threw here “violently across the toilet” and caused her “serious injuries.” Pictures are filed with the lawsuit showing tiny particles of glass layered on the hotel bathroom and filling the toilet…”

Hotels need to be really vigilant about this problem…(says) a glass expert who may soon testify in three cases where guests were injured when their shower doors shattered… “The two main types of injuries are where their bodies get cut and the other ones are where they are walking out on glass and cutting their feet.”

Another couple posts video on Vimeo showing what allegedly happened to them during their Hawaiian honeymoon at the Ohana Hotel in Waikiki West. You can hear the water running from the shower, see his wife standing in the water, and feel her pain as she obviously had to find a way out through shattered glass all over the floor. The new groom, Lance Ogren, looks into his own home video camera and says, “I heard her start to open (the shower) and I heard a big crash.” Ogren tells CBS 11 news the hotel gave them an apology and a new room.

Meshulam says most shower doors have tempered glass which is heated and then cooled creating tension for durability. He demonstrated how hard it is to break slamming a hammer into a tempered glass shower door several times before it finally shatters. He says the door are considered safe because under stress they shatter into tiny pieces; however, he says there are several reasons why a shower door might explode.

One is a small crack, like the one in your windshield, that just slowly grows out like a spider web. “When it hits a certain part of the glass where all those internal tensions are residing then everything blows up.” He also says towel bars might not be installed properly. Or, doors may not slide on the tracks correctly. These can cause pressure over time. Finally, there could be a problem during the manufacturing process if a microscopic grain of nickel sulfide gets trapped inside the glass. This manufacturing defect is a “ticking time bomb.”

For more:  http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2012/09/28/cbs-11-investigates-shattering-shower-doors/

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Filed under Claims, Guest Issues, Injuries, Insurance, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: California Hotel Sued By Family Of Woman Killed Crossing Street To Parking Lot; “Duty To Ensure Safety Of Guests”

“…The civil complaint alleges The Cliffs Resort has a duty to ensure the safety of its customers but failed to do so…the location is dangerous because resort patrons who do not use valet service must park on the east side of Shell Beach Road…they must cross the busy street without the benefit of a crosswalk, traffic controls, warning signs, or proper lighting…the lawsuit claims.”

The family of a woman struck and killed by an SUV while crossing Shell Beach Road in Pismo Beach nearly a year ago has filed a lawsuit seeking to improve safety at the site. The lawsuit was filed April 11 against The Cliffs Resort and the city of Pismo Beach by San Luis Obispo personal injury lawyer  Ryan Harris on behalf of the family of Tricia Rittger.

The Los Osos resident was 39 when she was struck Nov. 19, 2011, in front of the hotel and subsequently died, leaving behind husband Aaron and a 4-year-old daughter.

Harris said the lawsuit seeks to force The Cliffs and the city to improve safety for customers walking from the parking lot across Shell Beach Road to the hotel and restaurant.

For more: http://www.timespressrecorder.com/articles/2012/09/28/news/news54.txt

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Filed under Guest Issues, Injuries, Insurance, Liability, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Health Risks: “Wrongful Death” Lawsuit Filed Against Illinois Hotel For Legionnaire’s Disease Outbreak Tied To Fountain In Lobby

“…Health officials tied the outbreak to the main fountain in  the hotel lobby. The plaintiff …alleges the  hotel didn’t properly maintain the fountain and said the company neglected to  prevent visitors from walking near the fountain when the hotel should have known  about the bacteria…”

The family of a Florida man who died after catching  Legionnaire’s disease at a Loop hotel has filed a wrongful death suit against  Marriott International. Luis Enrique Acevedo Muro was one of three people who died  after being exposed to Legionella bacteria at the JW Marriott Chicago Hotel, at  151 W. Adams St., according to the lawsuit and public health officials.

Acevedo Muro, of Key Biscayne, Fla., contracted Legionnaire’s  disease after  staying at the hotel from Aug. 1 to Aug. 3, the suit claims. He  died Aug. 14.

The eight-count suit, filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit  Court,  claims wrongful death and survival action against Marriott and   Chicago-based developer The Prime Group, Inc.  It seeks an unspecified  amount in  damages. Neither company could be reached for comment Wednesday evening.

Legionnaires’ disease is contracted by breathing in mist or  vapors from water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria and usually develops  two to 14 days after exposure. It frequently begins with headache, high fever  and chills, and progresses by the second or third day to include a cough, chest  pain and shortness of breath.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/legionnaires-disease-outbreak-chicago-hotel-marriot-171439911.html#ixzz27g7k8GHy

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Filed under Claims, Guest Issues, Health, Injuries, Insurance, Liability, Maintenance, Risk Management

Hospitality Industry Crime Risks: “Strong Smell” Leads Police To Meth Lab In Florida Motel Room

“…It’s  a huge public safety issue. The chemicals involved are volatile, can be volatile especially when mixed together. People that don’t know what they’re doing, even people who are experienced at cooking, still cause fires, explosions…”

Two men are accused of setting up a meth lab in a Tallahassee motel. It happened at the Super 8 motel on North Monroe Street.  Deputies say a tip led them to room 229 and the strong smell led them to a meth lab inside.

Jack Peppers and Kevin Smith – both of Thomasville – are accused of trafficking in meth, manufacturing meth and having the ingredients to make more. Deputies say one batch of the meth was ready and divided up for use.  Another batch, they say, was being chemically cooked upstairs.

“The dry product, we had about 16 grams which is worth about $1600 on the street which is pretty significant for what they consider a small lab,” said SGT Ed Cook with LCSO’s Vice and Narcotics Unit. “They also had another 500 grams of product that was still cooking.”

Deputies had to ventilate the room for hours before going inside to clean it up.  They say all of the adjoining rooms were vacant so they did not have to evacuate any other motel guests.

For more:  http://www.wctv.tv/news/headlines/Meth-Bust-at-Tallahassee-Motel-171177501.html

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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Health, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership

Hospitality Industry Risk Solutions: Oklahoma Restaurant Roof Fire Causes Extensive Structural, Water And Smoke Damage

“…Firefighters arrived quickly, but struggled with the fire because flames became trapped between two layers of the roof toward the back of the building…”

A popular Oklahoma City pizza restaurant is closed following a fire early Tuesday morning. A police officer driving down N. Western near Nichols Hills first reported heavy smoke coming out of the Hideaway Pizza restaurant around 3 a.m.

Once they doused the flames, crews surveyed the damage. It appeared most of the heavy fire damage is in the rear of the structure near the kitchen area. There is smoke and water damage throughout the building.

Firefighters are still trying to figure out what started the blaze; arson investigators and a State Health Department representative spent several hours at the scene.

Fire investigators say it appears the fire had smoldered inside the building for quite a while.

For more:  http://www.newson6.com/story/19631479/fire-heavily-damages-popular-okc-pizza-place

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Filed under Fire, Insurance, Maintenance, Management And Ownership

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: “Tip Pool Skimming” Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against New York Restaurant; Over 100 Former Waitstaff Claim Managers Took 26% Of Tips

“…The suit, filed by more than 100 people who’ve worked there for the last six years, also claims that Les Halles paid waitstaff less than the $5 minimum wage for food service employees…”

Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles is the latest restaurant to be hit with a lawsuit from waitstaff alleging that management skimmed from their tipping pool. Both of the restaurants’ locations are named in the suit, which according to the Post alleges that floor managers took 26% of the pool.

“In my experiences at Les Halles, management was, if anything, unusually scrupulous about these things,” Bourdain, the chef-at-large, said, referring to the group of people who almost certainly do not raid the bar after-hours while blasting a Kool & The Gang Pandora station through the restaurant’s speakers.

We always preferred pooling as opposed to the vicious, territorial struggle of solo-sectioning, but this could be Bourdain’s biggest stumbling block since he ate a bunch of flesh in front of starving rich people.

For more:  http://gothamist.com/2012/09/23/anthony_bourdains_les_halles_sued_f.php

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