Monthly Archives: May 2013

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Hawaii Restaurant Group Settles “Sexual Harassment” Lawsuit With EEOC For $150,000, Harassment Training For All Employees & Managers

“…the (kitchen) supervisor subjected the workers, some of whom were between the ages of 17 and 19, to sexual comments, language and advances, the EEOC said.  Upon reporting the harassment to the general manager, the EEOC said, Panda Express management failed to take EEOCenough action to stop or correct the situation…”

Chinese quick service restaurant giant Panda Express will pay $150,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit on behalf of at least three female teenagers who were allegedly sexually harassed between 2007 and 2009 while working in a restaurant in Kauai, Hawaii, the federal agency announced today.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The EEOC filed its lawsuit in September 2012 in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii (EEOC v. Panda Express, Inc. and Panda Restaurant Groups, Inc., Case No. 1:12-cv-00530-SOM-RLP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a two-year consent decree requiring Panda Express to designate an in-house equal employment opportunity (EEO) coordinator; revise and distribute its anti-harassment policy and procedures; and provide annual sexual harassment training to all employees in Kapaa and to all general managers in the state of Hawaii.  EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement, and Panda Express agreed to reinforce its protocols relating to complaints of sexual harassment in its Hawaii region.

“We commend Panda Express for working with the EEOC to correct serious lapses in dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction.  “We trust that Panda Express’s company values are consistent with the goals of the EEOC’s mission, and we commend them for agreeing to broader injunctive remedies to ensure that the workers in Hawaii are protected.”

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Hospitality Industry Crime Risks: New York Hotel Rooms Burglarized By Man Who Stole Housekeeping Master Key

“…An investigation found the housekeeping master key had been stolen. Maintenance personnel reported an individual had been seen using a card to enter a room other than his own, and more guests reported thefts and observations of someone entering rooms without authorization…A hotel thefthotel guest on the second floor claimed that when he returned to his room at 7 p.m. he found his suitcases unzipped, marks on a locked briefcase, two watches and other personal items missing, as well as the dresser from the room…”

After allegedly stealing the master key from the Super 8 Hotel on Route 17, a Hillburn, N.Y., man was arrested on charges of burglary, theft, and drug possession, according to Police Chief James Batelli. Frank Hadley, 40, who was a registered guest in a room on the third floor of the hotel from May 14-21, was arrested Monday, May 20, after an investigation by the Mahwah Police Department found he had stolen the master key and broke into hotel rooms.

Another guest, who was also staying on the second floor, reported that he was wakened by a knock at his door followed by the sound of the key card accessing the room. The guest went to grab the door and confronted the perpetuator who “rambled about having problems with satellite reception on the third floor,” Batelli said. The customer didn’t get a good look of the man at his door because of poor lighting, he said.

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Hospitality Industry Property Risks: Michigan Restaurant “Electrical Fire” Spreads Throughout Ceiling Area, Causing $400,000 In Damage

“…the fire started above the ceiling, in the attic space, (where) there is some wiring in that immediate area…one of the employees could hear some crackling above the ceiling…the fire began in an area right above Restaurant Firethe entrance to the restaurant. Firefighters had to break into the ceiling of the 5,500-square-foot restaurant to put out the blaze…”

Investigators say an electrical fire caused about $400,000 in damage to a popular Clinton Township restaurant Tuesday night. The fire broke out at J. Baldwin’s Restaurant & To-Go location at 16981 Eighteen Mile Road at about 9:54 p.m., Clinton Township Fire Chief Jack Shea said today.

The main fire was under control in 20 minutes, but it took another couple of hours to put out small fires that had extended elsewhere in the building, Shea said. Firefighters cleared the scene at around 12:30 p.m.

The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. on Tuesdays, according to the company’s website. Shea said there were people at the establishment, but it was about to close. No one was injured in the blaze.

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Hospitality Industry Crime Solutions: Alaska Restaurant Uses “Facebook Posting” To Track Down Thieves Who Broke Into Company Freezer

“…In Facebook postings that began Saturday morning, the owner of Kriner’s Diner said they had surveillance camera footage of a car and at Restaurant Social Media Helps Find Thievesleast two suspects who, the diner’s owner alleges, broke into the company freezer just before 5 a.m. Saturday…Once the pictures hit the web, they spread rapidly online. The operator of the diner’s page said just one picture was shared nearly 48,000 times within 24 hours of being posted…”

The owners of a Midtown restaurant are crediting social media with helping nab the suspects who stole meat from the company freezer. The payoff came Sunday, just after noon, when Kriner’s Diner updated its Facebook page, writing that “Facebook friends” had spotted the car in question and called the police, resulting in an arrest.

It’s a call the restaurant’s owner said wouldn’t have happened without the postings on social media.

“I had mentioned what had happened on my page, and you know, tips just started pouring in and people wanted to help,” Andy Kriner said Monday. “I posted it on our Kriner’s Facebook page and within 30 hours, they were in custody.”

Kriner said he uses the social network often, posting specials and other information about his restaurant, but never before had he used it like this.

“An average post of mine has 1,500 views, and I have a lot of people go on there day to day just to look at our lunch specials,” he said. “I think that this probably had a lot to do with it.”

Kriner said he couldn’t comment on the details of the still-active investigation—he declined to disclose just how much meat or what other products were stolen, nor how many suspects had been arrested—but he said the postings on Facebook played a vital role making the arrest.

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Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Mississippi Restaurant Sued For “Race Discrimination” By EEOC; Hired Only Whites As Servers, Bartenders And Other Front-Of-The-House Positions

“…The EEOC  claims Stone Pony Pizza refused to hire African-American  applicants as a class for certain positions because  of their race.  Stone Pony is alleged to  have hired only whites for front-of-the-house positions such as server,  hostess, waitress, and bartender, and hired African-EEOCAmericans for  back-of-the-house positions such as cook and dishwasher. Additionally, the EEOC  charged that Stone Pony maintained a  racially segregated workforce and failed to keep job applications as required  by law…”

Stone  Pony Pizza, Inc., a Clarksdale pizza restaurant and bar, violated federal law  by refusing to hire a class of African-American applicants because of their  race, according to a lawsuit filed on Friday, May 17, 2013 by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC filed suit, Civil Action No., 4:13-cv-00092, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of  Mississippi, Greenville Division, after first attempting to reach  a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The  suit was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which  prohibits discrimination based on race and color.  The suit seeks monetary relief in the form of  back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, hiring relief and an injunction  against future discrimination.

“Employers simply cannot  refuse to hire applicants based on their race, nor can they segregate employees  into certain positions based upon their race,” said Katharine Kores, district  director of the

EEOC’s Memphis  District Office.  “Applicants should be  evaluated based upon their qualifications, not the color of their skin.”

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially  class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial,  ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with  disabilities, is one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s  Strategic Enforcement Plan.

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Hospitality Industry Theft Risks: Indiana Hotel “Human Resources Employee” Fired After Issuing “Fraudulent Paychecks” To Himself

“…the HR director was solely responsible for issuing the paychecks for all employees at the hotel…Police were told that more than $7,045 was hospitality industry employee theftpaid to the employee beyond his regular earnings for his job, beginning in December…his boss told police that an internal investigation turned up evidence of the bogus extra paychecks, prompting the worker’s firing…”

A hotel executive has been fired after the hotel’s manager told police that he had been writing extra paychecks to himself. Airport police were called this week to the Radisson Indianapolis Airport, where the general manager handed officers copies of fraudulent paychecks that had been written to the hotel’s director of human resources.

General Manager Nitin Talati declined to comment in his hotel’s lobby on Thursday. His staff could be heard telling phone callers that the hotel was entirely booked for this week’s Indianapolis 500.

Police said Talati told them he had called the employee in when the checks were discovered and the worker admitted to writing himself the extra paychecks. The worker then signed a promissory note on April 12 agreeing to repay the money. Talati reported to police that none of the money had been repaid, so his company now wants to press charges.

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Texas-Based Motel Group Faces “Class-Action Lawsuit” Over “ADA Pool Lift” Non-Compliance; “No Plan Or Policy Making Pools Accessible By Disabled People”

“…the defendant’s hotels, which are places of public accommodation, have barriers to use of the pools…the pools do not have a fixed pool lift or Hospitality Industry Class Action Lawsuitsother acceptable means of entry for disabled persons, notwithstanding that such modifications are readily achievable…the existence of barriers to use the pool at the defendant’s hotels deterred the plaintiff from staying at the defendant’s hotels, the suit says.”

G6 Hospitality Property LLC is facing a class action lawsuit alleging it is not complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The litigation, initiated May 20 in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas by plaintiff Dana Bowman, claims G6, doing business as Motel 6, failed “to design, construct and/or own or operate hotel facilities that are fully accessible to, and independently usable by, disabled people.”

Bowman, a retired Army sergeant first class, asserts that he called the respondent prior to visiting Houston on business to see if its hotels’ pools had some means of access for the disabled such as himself only to be told there were none, adding he “independently” verified the absence of a pool lift at the facilities.

According to the original petition, the respondent “does not have a plan or policy that is reasonably calculated to make all of its hotels fully accessible to and independently usable by disabled people.”

A jury trial is requested.

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