Monthly Archives: December 2013

Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Pennsylvania Hotel Faces Federal “Sexual Harassment And Retaliation” Lawsuit; Woman Terminated After Making Written And Verbal Complaints

“…the hotel’s assistant manager, told the plaintiff that (the defendant) was telling others that he possessed nude photographs of Vazquez, Hospitality Industry Sexual Harassment Lawsuitssomething the woman denied…(she) met with the hotel’s manager (and asst. manager) in the spring of 2012 to discuss the situation…Vazquez subsequently offered the human resources department a written statement about the harassing conduct…Two days after she submitted her statement, the plaintiff was placed on a five-day suspension…Vazquez was told she was being suspended for voiding a transaction at the front desk when her cash drawer was short, even though the plaintiff claims she was taught to do just that in such a situation when she first started working for the defendant…After returning from her suspension on May 16, 2012, the plaintiff was immediately fired from her job…”

A Philadelphia woman who worked as a front desk agent for the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel has filed a federal civil action against the business contending she was fired in retaliation for speaking out about harassing conduct on the part of another worker.

Crystal Vazquez, who was first hired by the defendant in May 2010, maintains that her firing exactly two years later was retribution for the plaintiff complaining about sexual harassment by the hotel’s AT&T specialist, a man identified in the complaint as Ryan Sheridan. Sheridan, who is not listed as a defendant in the litigation, allegedly told hotel employees that he and the plaintiff had been sexually intimate.

Vazquez was out on maternity leave in late December 2011, which is when Sheridan was allegedly making the comments about the supposed intimate nature of his relationship with the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.

“Needless to say, Plaintiff’s termination was a direct result of her complaints regarding sexual harassment,” the complaint reads. The lawsuit accuses the hotel of violating the Civil Rights Act and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.

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“2014 Hospitality Law Conference” Sponsored By On February 10-12 Features Industry Legal, Safety And Security Solutions

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

Hospitality Industry Cyber Crime Risks: Boston Restaurant Group Was Source Of Major Credit Card Payment System Breach; “Sophisticated, Outside Attack”

“…The (restaurant group) believes that it was a sophisticated, outside attack…Boston Police and the US Secret Service are Hospitality Industry Identity Theftinvestigating…This is the second major breach of the Briar Group’s payment systems. In 2009, malware, or malicious software, was apparently installed on Briar’s computers, allowing thieves to access credit and debit card information. The chain paid a $110,000 to the state to settle allegations that it failed to protect diners’ personal information after that security breach.

A local restaurant chain confirmed Friday that its computer systems were breached, putting the credit-card information of thousands of customers at risk, including visitors who attended two major conventions in Boston.

The Briar Group, which owns 10 restaurants and bars in Boston, including two at the Westin hotel connected to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, said its computer systems were infiltrated sometime between October and early November. It said customer names, credit-card numbers, expiration dates, and security information were captured from the cards’ magnetic strips.

The company isn’t sure how many customers were affected, but every month thousands visit Briar’s locations, said Diana C. Pisciotta, a spokeswoman for the chain.

The American Public Health Association hosted 13,000 conventioneers in Boston in early November, and the American Society of Human Genetics brought 8,000 attendees to a conference in October. Both reported that hundreds of people reported unauthorized charges on their accounts after visiting Boston.

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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Liability, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Theft

Hospitality Industry Health Risks: The CDC Lists The “Major Pathogens That Cause Foodborne Illness” In 2013

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: California Restaurant Ordered To Pay $5.68 Million In “Age Discrimination” Lawsuit; Acted With “Fraud & Malice” After Terminating Four “Older” Women

“…a second phase of trial the same day, the jury added a combined total of $4 million in punitive damages after finding that the restaurant Hospitality Industry Discrimination Lawsuitsacted with fraud, oppression and/or malice after terminating all four, then replacing them within a short time with younger women in their 20s…the restaurant was advertising for the plaintiffs’ replacements even after promising them that their minimum-wage jobs were safe, according to their attorney…”

Four former servers at a Woodland Hills restaurant were collectively awarded $5.68 million in a lawsuit alleging they were laid off from their jobs because of their ages. The plaintiffs, Martha Aboulafia, 61, Cheryl B. Colgin, 61, Regina Greene, 49, and Patricia Monica, 70, had a combined 47 years of service at Cable’s Restaurant at 20929 Ventura Blvd. All were let go by the restaurant’s new owner in 2010, according to trial testimony.

The women sued Cable’s and its owners, GACN Inc., in Los Angeles Superior Court in September 2011, alleging age discrimination and wrongful termination. On Dec. 17, a jury deliberated for less than two hours before unanimously awarding a combined $1.68 million in compensatory damages to the women for lost wages and emotional distress.

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: North Carolina Restaurant Settles EEOC “Religious Discrimination” Lawsuit For $40,000; Veteran Female Worker Fired For “Refusing To Wear Pants To Work”

The EEOC’s complaint alleged that the  companies informed Silver she must wear pants to work because of their dress  code policy.  According to Equal Employment Opportunity Commissionthe EEOC,  Silver told Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home she could not  wear pants because of her religious beliefs.   However, the companies ultimately fired her for refusing to wear pants  to work.

Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc. will pay $40,000 and furnish other  relief to resolve a religious discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal  Employment Opportunity Com­mission (EEOC), the agency announced today.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home are based in Laurinburg, N.C.  and  jointly operate a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in North  Carolina.

According to the EEOC’s complaint, Sheila  Silver converted to Pentecostalism in 2010.   As a member of the Pentecostal church, Silver believes women cannot wear  pants.  In accordance with this religious  belief, Silver has not worn pants since the fall of 2010.  Silver has worked for various Kentucky Fried  Chicken restaurants since 1992.  Scottish  Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home purchased the KFC restaurant where  Silver worked in Rocky Mount, N.C., in April 2013.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil  Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which requires employers to reasonably  accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs as long as doing so would not pose  an undue hardship.  The EEOC filed suit on  September 19, 2013 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North  Carolina (EEOC v. Scottish Food Systems,  Inc. and Laurinburg KFC Take Home, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:13-CV-00796)  after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process.

In  addition to monetary damages, the three-year consent decree resolving the suit  requires Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take Home to adopt a formal  religious accommodation policy and to conduct an annual training program on the  requirements of Title VII and its prohibition against religious discrimination.  Scottish Food Systems and Laurinburg KFC Take  Home will also post a copy of their anti-discrimination policy at all of their  facilities.

“Employers  must accommodate an employee’s sincerely held religious belief when such an  accommodation would not pose an undue hardship,” said  Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Charlotte District  Office.  “This case demonstrates the  EEOC’s continued commitment to fighting religious discrimination in the  workplace.”

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing  federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment.  Further information about the EEOC is  available on its web site at

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Hospitality Industry Safety Risks: Texas Hotel Faces “Wrongful Death” Lawsuit; Guest Falls Off “Defective Treadmill”

“…During his stay, (the deceased) went to use the property’s exercise room where he got on a treadmill maintained by Exer-Tech, according to the Hospitality Industry Wrongful Death Lawsuitssuit…a “defective” condition in the treadmill caused him to fall and strike his head (causing) a serious injury to his head which in turn resulted in his death…”

The family of a man who allegedly sustained a fatal head injury while working out at a Houston hotel has pursued legal action, recent court documents say. The late William Lake III’s widow and their three minor children filed a lawsuit against Marriott Hotel Services Inc. and Exer-Tech Inc. in Harris County District Court on Nov. 14.

Houston federal court received the case on Dec. 18. At the time of the events of last May 15, Lake was a paying guest at the Houston Marriott George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

His survivors fault Marriott for failing to address the treadmill’s allegedly dangerous condition while Exer-Tech is blamed for allegedly failing to properly maintain and repair the device. Consequently, the plaintiffs seek unspecified monetary damages.

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