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The need to understand and work with the law continues to grow in hospitality – Today and in the Future by Dr. John Hogan

publication date: Jan 22, 2014
author/source: Dr. John Hogan CHA CHE CMHS

Keys to Success

The need to understand and work with the law continues to grow in hospitality – Today and in the Future           

     By John Hogan, CHA CHE CMHS PhD

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Dr. John Hogan leading a recent workshop on issues facing hospitality business owners and managers

In my continuing professional work as an educator, an expert witness for both plaintiffs and defendants, as a consultant, author and speaker, I clearly see that the need to understand and work with the law continues to grow. As owners and operators in hotels, restaurants, spas, clubs and other hospitality businesses, we must recognize what a litigious society we are and how to protect all parties to the best of our knowledge.

I felt honored to have been asked by the editor of one of the world’s best known online publications to consider and share my thoughts on what we want to see more in the New Year.  I expanded it to include what we want and need in 2012, which is reflected in the title that asks if hospitality is still the industry that motivates entrepreneurs.  In preparing this column, I noted that a majority of the items all dealt with training, ethics, values, fairness and professional development.

While overall the industry remains in a flat or somewhat down market, the industry has begun to recover in certain markets and the supply is not increasing.  There are some upbeat signals relating to meetings and business travel.  On the flip side, despite the federal government stimulus assistance to some business sectors, there are still many hotels that are being returned to lenders in the USA and trends are still slow to recover occupancy or rates achieved five to six years ago. Government travel is curtailed and the industry is depicted as a center of savings for others, while banking and certain other industries are seemingly free to operate as they wish.

With those observations on my mind, I wanted to share with readers some practical ways they might be able to continue to learn on how to both protect their businesses and assets, while improving operations and profitability.  There a large number of conferences and online resources available that addresses these two issues and one needs to be aware of the options and choices.

As I did last year for the 1st time, I am going to provide readers with background information and an overview of a program that discusses both of those sensitive issues of legal protection and operations. From ethics to immigration, from social media to real estate best practices, from 3rd party liability to alcohol and food liability and from wage & hour to workplace relationships, the latest trends and issues in hospitality law are included at the  Annual Hospitality Law Conference

General Sessions

1.       Sex, Drugs, Art, and Rock n' Roll in the Workplace

  • Current legal challenges arising from workplace romances?  Should you implement a no- fraternization policy?
  • Electronic flirting and sexting and the out-of-control use of social networking
  • How employers are coping with employees' use of recreational and prescription drugs
  • The challenge of regulating employee appearance including weight, dress, tattoos and body piercings?
  • Conflicts arising from offensive or objectionable music and "art" in the workplace
  • Do these issues vary from state to state and country to country?
2.       Food and Beverage Liability Update

 3.       Medical Emergencies At Your Hotel, Restaurant or Business: An Analysis of Duty, Risk and Liability

 4.       Ethics Presentation - Keeping Options Open: Internal Investigations and Anti-Corruption Laws

Major topic areas for Corporate Counsel Workshop include discussions on:

 ·         All Things Social Media

 ·         Litigation Update and Challenging Card Network PCI Rule Enforcement Mechanisms

 ·         Current Issues with Internet and Wi-Fi for Hotels and Restaurants

 ·         Judicial Hellholes: Don't Get Burned - Risk Management Techniques and Defense Strategies for Litigating in Plaintiff Friendly Jurisdictions

 ·         Corporate Counsel Tools in a Flash

 ·         Best Practices for Coordination Between the Legal, Risk and Claims Departments during Litigation and Claims Processing

Risk Management & Loss Prevention, including Data Privacy
, Workshop

·         Data Security Breaches: The Crucial Mistakes That Companies Most Often Make

·         Business Interruption: Common Challenges and Solutions    

·         The Claims Process    

·         Current Issues in Loss Prevention  

·          Best Practices for Coordination Between the Legal, Risk and Claims Departments during Litigation and Claims Processing

There is a segment on Real Estate Transactions covering topics not usually found in many industry conferences. Discussions planned include:


Real Estate Transactions Workshop

·         Nuts and Bolts of Deal Structuring, Investment Analysis and How to Structure Equity

·          Discussion of Capital    

·         Panel of Developers; Public/Private Discussion and Mixed-use Projects

·         Mergers and Acquisitions    

Bankers, Servicers, Franchisors and Receivers Answer All Your Questions,


There are additional sessions for people looking for a refresher or an overview of certain operational reports and their meaning:

Management Agreements Workshop

·          Basic Negotiation Points and Market Terms; Key Business Terms at the LOI Stage    

·         Utilizing Third-Party Food & Beverage Programs in a Hotel

·         Loans and key money arrangements; Subordination and Non-Disturbance Agreements

·         Typical Claims that Might Arise from a Management Contract and Possible Resolutions and Alternative Dispute Resolution

There is a substantial range of topics in both Food & Beverage and Lodging Activity and Profit Centers

1.       Menus and Food Labeling:  Do Your Health and Environmental Claims Present Liability Risks?  

2.       "The Last Drink": Determining Intoxication and the Industry Standard of Care

3.       The Best Offense is a Good Defense: Strategies for Preventing and Defending Food, Allergy and Alcohol Claims

 Understanding the 3 Tiers of the Alcohol Industry: The Promotional Perspective

5.       Have Gun Will Travel: Dealing with Firearms in the World of Hospitality

6.       Third Party Leasing (F&B, Spas, Retail, Rooftop Antennas)

7.       How to Defend a Title III ADA Accessibility Claim    

8.       Mock Negotiation of a Hotel Management Agreement

As mentioned earlier, the industry continues to see large numbers of legal claims requiring time, staff and financial resources. These may be in Operations, Human Resources and/or other areas in Risk Management and Loss Prevention.

Sessions scheduled here include:

1.       Navigating Employment Law Issues for High Profile Restaurants, Hotels and Lounges    

2.       Are You Sure You Are Paying Your Employees Correctly Under the FLSA?

ICE Audits, I-9 Forms and E-Verify - Put Immigration Compliance at the Top of Your To Do List

Emerging Issues at the Corporate Level: Danger Spots Beyond Daily Operations

5.       Current Issues in Loss Prevention, including issues such as bed bugs, pandemics, and guest safety. 

To assess the specifics, I contacted some presenters at this year's conference and had the opportunity to make some new acquaintances as well as to renew existing relationships with professionals I have interacted with over the years.   I reached out to four well respected individuals who shared their messages on the programs they will participating in.  They include:

       Elizabeth DeConti, Shareholder at Gray Robinson in Tampa, Florida   

     Her law practice focuses on the alcohol beverage, food, and hospitality industries. She is a litigator, a mediator and practices administrative law and trade regulation. Her alcohol industry clients are in all tiers of the three tier system (manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers), and they deal in all segments (beer, wine, and spirits).       http://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethdeconti

She shared that her presentation includes an overview of the 3- tier system for the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in the US and addresses state and federal "tied house laws" as they pertain to supplier involvement in retailer promotions.  Attendees will be able to discuss contests, sweepstakes, incentive programs, signage, displays, and other promotional vehicles, as well as exploring how to market in the new world of social media while still remaining in compliance with what seem at times puzzling laws. She has participated in eight  previous conferences.

  Dr. William Frye, CHE of Niagara University is hosting the Lodging Operational focus.  Dr Frye has both academic and industry experience, has participated in faculty internships with Marriott and Hyatt Hotels  and was pleased to have included in the ½ day program a number of topics of interest to many business owners and operators including dealing with firearms, 3rd party leasong (a growing area of interest in retail, spas, Food & beverage and roof-top antennas) and defending ADA accessibility claims in times of change and a potential increase in litigation. Representatives from a major brand and a large management company will also participate in a Mock Negotiation of a Hotel Management Agreement - on a personal note, these types of simulations are always eye-opening. 

William D. Frye, Ph.D., is an associate professor of hotel management at Niagara University where he lectures and conducts research on various lodging and hospitality law issues. He serves at the executive editor of The Rooms Chronicle®, a business journal for hotel owners and managers published by the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University that educates hoteliers how to manage their properties more effectively, efficiently and profitably. He is also the co-author of the textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations published by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and has served for the past ten years as the Chair of the Lodging Special Interest Group for the International Council of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education.   Dr. Frye is also a Founding Associate of  HospitalityEducators.com    William D. Frye, Ph.D., CHE, College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Niagara University, NY 14109-2012, 716-286-8274     wfrye@niagara.edu  



Brad Adler, Partner @ Freeman, Mathis & Gary    Atlanta, GA  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/bradley-adler/8/a2b/78b

He has represented public and private sector employers on a national, regional and local basis in resolving labor and employment related issues, including employment discrimination claims, wage and hour claims, family and medical leave claims and disputes regarding employee theft, embezzlement and violations of non-compete, non-solicitation and non-disclosure agreements.   He has served in leadership positions within the legal and business community, is the author of the Georgia segment of the Defense Research Institute's Compendium of State Employment Laws and has been appointed to the EEOC Stakeholders Task Force for Georgia, where he currently sits as a representative for the business community.

Brad has attended this conference the last several years and stressed that hospitality law includes not only hotels, but crosses over into restaurants, clubs, spas and other hospitality-related businesses.  He noted a measurable swing in the rise of "collective actions" that plaintiffs are pursuing against hospitality employers under the Fair Labor Standards Act for the alleged misclassification of employers as exempt employees and also related to the use and application of the tip credit to non-tipped employees.


He warned this was a burgeoning area for plaintiffs' lawyers for at least two primary reasons.  First, the presence of the "collective action" provides plaintiffs' lawyers the potential for significant damages for the class (and, thus, significant attorney's fees).  Second, under the FLSA, plaintiffs do not have to prove employers intended to violate the Act to prevail.  Rather, all that is required is a showing that the employer failed to comply with the FLSA, even for employers that operate on a mistaken assumption that they are paying employees in compliance with the FLSA.  He offered that this program will provide proactive guidance and practical advice on specific hot topics under the FLSA, including issues dealing with the tip credit, outside sales employees, travel time, computer boot-up time, and other "off the clock" scenarios.


Karen Morris            Rochester, New York Area                  http://judgekaren.com/

Judge Karen Morris is one of a team of professionals who, with Diana Barber of Georgia State University, leads one of the segments that is always enjoyed by participants. The Hospitality Law Case reviews usually include Food & Beverage Liability cases, Franchise disputes and resolutions and how to avoid negative publicity and liability by learning what "not to do."  Where else could one hear brief summaries of the top 100+ cases that impacted the hospitality industry of the past year, with highlights of the most interesting ones?

She has been with Monroe Community College  since 1980 and was the 1st community college professor in the state university system to receive this designation of Distinguished Professor.  She has taught both online and in person courses in Penal Law, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, Business Law, Legal Environment of Business and Hotel and Restaurant Law. She has a number of professional recognitions including SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, MCC Excellence in Teaching Award, and served as Past President - Faculty Senate , Past President - Northeast Academy of Legal Studies in Business and as a Former Member - Governing Council Faculty Association. She has served as past Faculty Advisor to a number of campus groups and in the Monroe County Legislature. She is a frequent guest speaker at professional, legal and writing associations.  She is the Author of Legal textbooks and, instructional software including Criminal Law in New York (co-authored) - a treatise for lawyers , New York Cases in Business Law - College Textbook , Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Law - College Textbook , and is the Columnist, Hotel and Motel Management Magazine, "Legally Speaking".

She also "walks the talk", as she has been elected by town residents four times, serving 16 years as Brighton Town Justice, is the author of numerous precedent-setting decisions , the Administrative Judge for Brighton Town Court and has adjudicated 75,000 cases


I have attended, conducted and participated in literally more than 1000 programs in my career to date and always value conferences that can make a difference.

This symposium differs from others in its structure, audience and more intimate size. It was initially created as an excellent forum for in-house counsel, attorneys practicing in the hospitality industry, CFOs, comptrollers, accountants and IT professionals. It has evolved to include specific discussions of interest to those involved with risk management, security and loss prevention, as well as the legal side of operations and understanding liability.

I offer the following Key Benefits to attending this particular conference:

  1. This is an independent symposium, not organized or branded by a specific hospitality company. This independence, as coordinated by HospitalityLawyer.com founder, Stephen Barth, clearly avoids the restraints that the branded meetings must address.
  2. Attendees receive current and detailed information on urgent concerns in the hospitality industry including franchising, legislation, premises liability, financial options, as well as changes in employment and management contracts.
  3. Sessions are led by hospitality industry counsel, hospitality faculty and business leaders that are personally involved in the every day and long term components of the business.
  4. This is an intimate conference, with attendance aimed at no more than 400. This allows excellent opportunities for one-on-one discussions, Q&A sessions that are meaningful, networking and real world scenarios. The participation of a limited number of hospitality law faculty and students adds to the blend of activity.
  5. The program length is manageable and lasts only 1 and ½ days unless one chooses to attend the pre-conference.
In these days of litigation unknowns, it may very well pay to take the time to learn to understand and work with the law.  The conference will be held at the Omni Houston Hotel, in Houston, Texas. For more information, go to  http://www.hospitalitylawyer.com/index.php?id=53#LP

Feel free to share an idea for a column at   John.Hogan@HospitalityEducators.com   anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements ... And remember - we all need a regular dose of common sense.


John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is CEO and Co-Founder of a consortium of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today. HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. HospitalityEducators.com was created to help hospitality businesses address problems via a training and information resource site to help you increase your Hotel's revenue, market share and profitability.  With more than 1,000 pages of tips, guides, best practices, strategies, plans, budgets, videos and resources, HospitalityEducators.com has become the #1 independent website for  hotel owners and managers.  This site can help you solve your problems now!      Read More 

Special Pricing For a Limited Time for Readers of this column              Code RFS35                                           Use the Reader Feedback Special for an annual membership at a cost of less than 35 cents per day!

      Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS         

Consulting Expertise and Research Interest

1.       Hospitality Training for all areas

2.       Sales Management and training                                      

3.       Professional Development for the Organization and the Individual

4.       Customer Service               

5.       Making Cultural Diversity Real                                       

6.       Developing Academic Hospitality programs

7.       Medical Lodging Consulting

8.       Turn-around and revenue management


If you need assistance in any of these areas or simply an independent review or opinion on a hospitality challenge, contact me directly for a prompt response and very personalized attention.    


Your Hospitality Resource for the Hotel Owner, Innkeeper, Manager and Hospitality Industry Associations



Dr. John Hogan, CHE CHA CMHS          United States - Phoenix, Phone: 602-799-5375

www.hoganhospitality.com/             Email: john@hoganhospitality.com 



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