"The customer is always right." That is the long-honored "golden rule" for success in the hospitality industry—an industry made of many sectors whose importance to the United States and world economies must not be under estimated. The travel and tourism industry in the U.S. supports 7.8 million jobs and makes up 2.8 percent of U.S. gross domestic product. The golden rule reflects the spirit with which successful casinos, spas, and other hospitality industry businesses regard and treat their patrons and clients—with an understanding of, and responsiveness to, their unique needs and concerns.
Epstein Becker Green (EBG) has also mastered the golden rule. We approach each matter with a single goal: to obtain a thorough understanding of the issue, and then respond promptly, effectively, and efficiently to resolve it to the client’s satisfaction.
EBG has been advising and representing clients in the hospitality industry with their business needs for more than 40 years. Attorneys in all practices and offices of the firm handle a broad range of matters for our hospitality clients. For instance, hospitality clients rely on us for the following:
Health Care Services
We counsel our clients on the healthcare and health benefit issues and laws that they must comply with, including requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Employment, Labor, and Workforce Management Services
EBG has long been a leader in providing labor and employment legal services to the hospitality industry. The HELLO (shorthand for "Hospitality Employment and Labor Law Outreach") Group at EBG is our dedicated team that handles every aspect of labor and employment law affecting the industry.
The very nature of the hospitality industry presents unique labor and employment issues. Few other industries open their doors and invite the public to interact with their employees. That fact alone not only makes these businesses susceptible to union organizing and large scale litigation, including wage-hour class actions and collective actions, but presents unusual challenges in handling those matters.
EBG’s hospitality industry clients have the benefit of attorneys who recognize and know how to address these challenges—and, just as importantly, understand their businesses. That experience is invaluable in assisting hospitality industry employers in dealing with:
- Collective bargaining
- Contracts and employee handbooks
- Discrimination complaints
- Employee benefits
- ERISA compliance
- Immigration and work site enforcement
- Internal audits
- Union avoidance
- Wage-hour issues
EBG offers a wide range of dispute avoidance and litigation services to help clients in the hospitality industry meet the challenges of compliance and litigation in both civil and criminal cases. When litigation or business disputes arise, our clients rely on our team of highly skilled litigators to fervently advocate their interests. Our litigators have extensive experience resolving disputes in federal and state trial and appellate courts and arbitral forums and through mediation.
EBG advises and represents a wide variety of hospitality clients, including:
- Gaming and casino operations
- Golf courses, sports clubs, and spas
- Hotels and resorts
- Lenders, investors, and developers involved in the financing and building of hospitality industry facilities
- Long-term residential health care and nursing facility management, including nursing homes, long-term rehabilitation centers, and assisted living facilities
- Private catering services and large institutional food service providers
- Restaurant owners and operators
- Support services and supply companies, including laundry, maintenance, and office support services and hotel and restaurant suppliers
- Travel and tourism owners and operators, including travel agents, tour operators, and tourist transportation companies (e.g., airlines, cruise lines, tour buses)
- Universities and private schools where students live on campus
- Collective Bargaining — We negotiated collective bargaining agreements covering various bargaining units for hotels throughout the United States, including implementing “economic distress” clauses, “operation efficiency” provisions, and the elimination of past practice restrictions.
- Employee Benefits — We implemented consolidation of retirement plans for hotel management company, advised on significant means to reduce multi-employer withdrawal liability, and restructured medical plan to save future costs and comply with new requirements under health care reform.
- Employment Discrimination — We successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of a hotel management company that faced pregnancy and gender discrimination under the maternity leave act. The case raised novel questions of the maternity law’s applicability to females who give birth to multiple infants.
- Health Care — We provide ongoing advice and counsel to hospitality clients throughout the United States regarding compliance with the terms of the Affordable Care Act.
- Transition Issues — We advised an international hotel company on labor and employment issues related to opening hotels in the United States. And we developed a strategy on all aspects of the opening, including applications, interviewing, hiring, employee policies, management training, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance audits.
- Wage and Hour — We defeated class certifications in wage and hour cases, including claims for misclassifications of “exempt” employees, treatment of service charges, tip pooling, overtime calculations, and other payment issues.