“Hotel owners and their representatives say a $15 minimum would trigger higher room rates and worker layoffs, as managements struggle to keep costs under control. The owners argue it’s unfair to take a piecemeal approach to pay rules — singling out a few industries or geographic areas.”
Category Archives: Uncategorized
Hospitality Industry Employee Update: “L.A. May Hike Minimum Wage for Hotel Workers to Highest in U.S.”
Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: “Kari’s Law: Murder Victim’s Family Campaigns To Change Hotel Policy”
“When we do this we want to do it right so people can feel comfortable when they have to dial 911 and they get an emergency dispatcher,” Gohmert told local TV station KETK. “Even adults when they’re witnessing something terribly traumatic will not be thinking about ‘what do I dial to get an outside line?’ They’d be running and dialing 911.”
“We are attempting to ensure that any person needing police, EMS or the Fire Department at any hotel or motel location may be able to dial the numbers 911 and receive emergency response,”
It was Dec. 1, 2013, and Kari Rene Hunt lie on the brink of death in a hotel room in East Texas. The eldest of her three children, a 9-year-old daughter, attempted to call 911 for help, but because she had no idea that she would have to dial 9 first to get an outside line, the call never went through and her mother succumbed to her wounds. Now, Hunt’s father Hank is out to ensure that hotels across the nation do away with systems that require dialing anything before 911 to make certain that the same scenario doesn’t happen again.
“We are attempting to ensure that any person needing police, EMS or the Fire Department at any hotel or motel location may be able to dial the numbers 911 and receive emergency response,” Hank said in a petition on Change.org. “In a panic, any underage child — or for that matter, anyone in an emergency situation — should be able to depend on dialing 911 from any phone in the United States and receiving assistance.”
“…Under the ordinance approved Tuesday, motels and hotels could incur fines of hundreds of dollars if they generate above an average 0.4 calls per room per month for recurring “nuisance activities.” Those activities were defined as including persistent noise, gang-related crime, illegal use of a firearm, disturbing the peace, illegal use or sale of fireworks, drug possession or sale, underage drinking and loud parties. Violent felonies are also covered…”
Costa Mesa hotels will have to pay a fine if they attract an “excessive” amount of police attention under a new law aimed at properties run by what one City Council member referred to as “slumlords.”
Under the ordinance approved Tuesday, motels and hotels could incur fines of hundreds of dollars if they generate above an average 0.4 calls per room per month for recurring “nuisance activities.” Those activities were defined as including persistent noise, gang-related crime, illegal use of a firearm, disturbing the peace, illegal use or sale of fireworks, drug possession or sale, underage drinking and loud parties. Violent felonies are also covered.
Reporting domestic violence and summoning fire or ambulance services, however, are not considered nuisance activities under the ordinance, the Daily Pilot reported.
Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: California Restaurant Franchisee Settles EEOC “Disability Discrimination Lawsuit” For $100,000; Former Floor Supervisor With “Intellectual Disability” Demoted To Janitorial Position
“…The EEOC contends that once Alia took over, Alia management demoted Morgan to a janitorial position, cut his hours and reduced his hourly wages, thereby forcing him to find other employment and resign by June 2009. The EEOC’s lawsuit argued that Alia Corporation thus engaged in disability discrimination that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)…”
Alia Corporation, a franchisee with over 20 fast-food chain restaurants throughout Central California, agreed to pay $100,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC originally filed suit against the Merced, Calif.-based company in 2011 on behalf of Derrick Morgan, a former floor supervisor with an intellectual disability (EEOC v. Alia Corporation, Case No. 1:11-cv-01549-LJO-BAM, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California). Morgan was known to be a good employee and promoted by previous management from crew member to supervisor in 2008.
As part of the settlement announced today, the parties entered into a three-year consent decree requiring Alia to hire an equal employment opportunity (EEO) monitor to create anti-discrimination policies and procedures; a complaint process and impartial investigations; a centralized tracking system for discrimination complaints; a system to hold employees accountable for discrimination; and, annual live disability discrimination training for all management and human resources employees. The $100,000 in monetary relief shall be paid entirely to Morgan. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the agreement.
“Employers cannot allow biases and stereotypes to factor into employment decisions,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which includes Fresno in its jurisdiction. “The EEOC commends Alia Corporation for today’s settlement, as it marks a new path for Alia — one which includes equal employment opportunity for all of their employees, regardless of disabilities.”
Melissa Barrios, director of the EEOC’s Fresno Local Office, said, “Disability discrimination charges are on the rise in California, comprising 30% of all charges filed. Workers who are unjustly penalized due to their disabilities have protections under federal law, and the EEOC is here to help.”
Hospitality Industry Property Risks: Texas Restaurant “Natural Gas Fire” Caused By Faulty Water Heater; Damage Estimated At $15,000
“…When firefighters got to the scene, the cook there told them that he heard the hot water heater pop and that’s when they saw the fire… Crews immediately evacuated the restaurant and the surrounding businesses, but they also had to cut the gas off before they could put out the fire, which was located in the restaurant’s mechanical room…”
Fire officials said a hot water heater is to blame for a natural gas fire at a Chinese restaurant on the city’s northwest side. The fire broke out at about 4:18 p.m. Sunday afternoon at the Hunan Chinese Restaurant.
Fire officials said this natural gas fire caused about $15,000 worth of damage.
Nobody was hurt in the fire and the surrounding businesses opened back up later that Sunday.
Hospitality Industry Theft Risks: Wisconsin Restaurant Employee Arrested For “Cashing Two Unauthorized Businsess Checks” In His Name
“…the owner of Espana Restaurant and Bar discovered Johnson had cashed two unauthorized checks from the business in his name for $160 and $350…the checks were kept in a locked desk drawer in the basement of the business and were pre-signed to pay vendors…”
A 37-year-old Wauwatosa man is facing charges after he allegedly stole two checks from his employer and then cashed them in his name. Dana James Johnson was charged Thursday in Milwaukee County Circuit Court with one count of theft. If convicted, he faces up to nine months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
Officers then went to Community Financial, 4525 W. North Ave., where they found security video footage of Johnson coming into the bank and cashing the checks.
Hospitality Industry Employee Safety And Wage Issues: Hotel Management Should Expect 2011 OSHA Regulations To Require A Written “Injury And Illness Protection Progam” And Dept. Of Labor (DOL) Rule Requiring Full Disclosure On “Worker’s Pay Computation”
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a regulation mandating that employers have a written health and safety program, referred to as an Injury and Illness Protection Program or “I2P2.”
- This rule would give an OSHA investigator the authority to find that an injury should have been avoided even if it was not regulated under a specific standard.
- OSHA will also publish a regulation that will require employers to analyze every employee injury to determine if it is a work-related recordable musculoskeletal injury.
- This regulation would set the stage for OSHA to revive its controversial ergonomics standard.
- The Wage and Hour Division at DOL has a highly anticipated rule that would greatly expand recordkeeping requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- It would require employers to disclose how a worker’s pay is computed and complete a written “classification analysis” for each worker who is exempt or outside of the coverage of the FLSA.
Hospitality Industry Employment Risks: Hospitality Management Must Have “Valid” Reasons To Fire Employees
- Make sure that you have a valid reason for firing (or laying off) the employee. Some invalid reasons include: retaliation, complaining about OSHA violations, discrimination, alien status, and any violation of public policy.
- Keep it confidential: a company-wide Eblast is probably not the best approach to alerting others in the company of the employees’ situation. Rather, only telling those individuals that need to know is the best approach to ensuring that the employee does not hear about his firing before it happens.
- Plan ahead: sounds simple enough, but by considering all the legal requirements you need to comport with before firing the employee, you will also alleviate a lot of legal concerns that may occur post-firing. This may include: severance offers, monies due, terms in the employment contract, company policies, etc.
- Keep a paper trail: keeping copies of performance reviews, relevant correspondence, and other personnel documents will help protect you should there be a lawsuit later on.
- The employee should not be completely surprised by the firing or lay-off. Whether it is keeping employees abreast of the struggling finances of the company, or alerting the worker to poor job performance, there should be a dialogue before the employment termination.
Although a majority of the American workforce is based on “at will” employment, essentially meaning that the employer-employee relationship can be severed at any time, there are still some viable concerns over a wrongful termination suit in any situation. Making sure you have a valid reason for firing an employee, and planning the conversation ahead of time will help with the actual firing and protect your company from many of the legal issues that follow.
In the end, honesty is almost always the best policy, and usually appreciated as the employee can take your reasons with them as they job hunt.
Hospitality Industry Insurance Risk Management: Las Vegas Hotel Has Insurance Policy That Fails To Name Hotel As “Additional Insured”, Complicating Payment Of A Submitted Claim For Structural Damage
The floor collapsed and dropped almost a foot, resulting in damage to the structures of both the lounge and the hotel.
The Luxor also sought compensation as an “additional insured.” The lease between the casino and developer required the latter to name Luxor as an additional insured on all policies. No doubt the Luxor assumed (that dangerous word!) that this language covered its exposure to loss.
However, the developer’s insurance policy restricted the coverage of an additional insured. Luxor’s entitlement was limited to indemnification for money it paid to people injured by the developer’s acts or omissions. The casino was not entitled to compensation for its own losses…
The casino invoked the Unfair Insurance Claims Practices Statute, a law adopted by numerous state legislatures.
The Luxor Hotel & Casino Hotel contracted with a developer to construct and operate a restaurant called the Cathouse Lounge (nothing is subtle in Vegas) on the mezzanine level. The developer gutted the space, made structural modifications and installed new fixtures and equipment.
One night during Cathouse’s third month in operation, while a large crowd was enjoying good food and fun ambiance, a portion of the structure began to buckle. The floor collapsed and dropped almost a foot, resulting in damage to the structures of both the lounge and the hotel. The lounge was evacuated immediately. Thereafter the county Department of Building Services ordered Luxor to close both the Cathouse and damaged portions of the hotel pending repairs. Luxor hired an expert to determine the cause of the floor’s failure. Turns out the renovations were insufficient to support the sizeable number of people the lounge attracted.
Both Luxor and the developer paid to repair the structural deficiencies and for damage to their respective property. The Cathouse reopened in three weeks and submitted a claim to its insurance company. The Luxor also sought compensation as an “additional insured.” The lease between the casino and developer required the latter to name Luxor as an additional insured on all policies. No doubt the Luxor assumed (that dangerous word!) that this language covered its exposure to loss.
However, the developer’s insurance policy restricted the coverage of an additional insured. Luxor’s entitlement was limited to indemnification for money it paid to people injured by the developer’s acts or omissions. The casino was not entitled to compensation for its own losses. Yikes!
This is a very significant limitation. Luxor was seeking compensation for costs of repairing structural damage to its own facility, replacing its own destroyed property and interruption of its business. The insurance company denied the claim based on the indemnification-only coverage, and the court upheld the denial. This was not the plan Luxor had in mind when it included the requirement that the casino be listed as an additional insured in the developer’s lease.
But lawyers are clever folks and Luxor was well-represented. The casino invoked the Unfair Insurance Claims Practices Statute, a law adopted by numerous state legislatures. This act requires, among other consumer protection provisions, that insurance companies respond to claim letters within 30 days of receipt. The insurance company in the Luxor case waited months before acknowledging the hotel’s claim. The penalty for violation is mandatory payment of the claim. This is true even though the policy does not otherwise cover the claim. So the court awarded Luxor the money it sought. Sometimes the back door can be a great alternative.
Hospitality Industry Health And Safety Risks: Hotel Owners Found Liable For $34 Million Resulting From Carbon Monoxide Leak Injuring 23 Employees At Hotel Restaurant
A Baltimore jury has awarded $34.3 million to 23 employees of an Inner Harbor steakhouse who suffered brain damage as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.
The plaintiffs worked for the Ruth’s Chris Steak House at the Pier V Hotel. The restaurant was evacuated on Feb. 2, 2008, after employees complained of dizziness and nausea. Carbon monoxide in the air was measured at potentially fatal levels.
Attorney Billy Murphy, who represented the plaintiffs, said Wednesday that the leak went on for weeks before the evacuation and that the hotel had removed a safety device that would have detected the problem.
The lawsuit named the hotel’s operator and owner. Murphy says Ruth’s Chris was not at fault.
Attorneys for the defendants could not immediately be reached for comment.