"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 nearly 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 provide the best possible solution for a client’s business needs, recognizing that every legal or compliance concern exists as part of a larger business landscape.
EBG has been advising and representing clients in the hospitality industry with their business needs for more than four decades. 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 health care and health benefit issues and laws that they must comply with, including requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
Employment, Labor, and Workforce Management Services
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 also 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. We have long been a leader in providing labor and employment legal services to the hospitality industry.
The Hospitality service team at EBG handles every aspect of labor and employment law affecting the industry. We also work hard to understand our clients and their business. As a result, our clients rely on us for all their employment, labor, and workforce management issues, from day-to-day challenges to fundamental questions, such as how to approach accessibility, whether an employee should be treated as exempt (or tipped, or part of a tip pool), or whether to use visa workers to staff seasonal positions. Our clients know that our advice is grounded upon a thorough knowledge of how the hospitality industry works, what others in the industry are doing, and what the consequences (intended and otherwise) of a particular action will be.
EBG's Hospitality service team offers clients a wide range of services, such as:
- Advice on all facets of the employment relationship, from pre-employment considerations and hiring to terminations and post-employment restrictions
- Assistance with contracts and employee handbooks, discrimination complaints, employee benefits, ERISA compliance, immigration and worksite enforcement, internal audits, union avoidance, and wage-hour compliance
- Counsel on the health care and health benefit issues and laws with which hospitality industry employers must comply
- Preparation of worldwide employment-related policies and procedures related to global operations
- Negotiation of collective bargaining agreements
- Counsel on Occupational Safety and Health Administration recordkeeping issues
- Counsel and strategic planning regarding providing auxiliary aids and services for individuals with disabilities (e.g., people with vision or hearing impairments); adopting new technologies (e.g., website accessibility, touchscreens, and mobile applications); conducting website accessibility audits; and preparing online, marketing, and informational materials regarding accessibility
- On-site workplace training seminars for employees, managers, and human resources personnel, as well as sexual harassment training to employees and their supervisors through EBG’s Halting Harassment e-learning solution
- Advice on best practices for providing a safe workplace and on the design and implementation of programs to avoid workplace violence
- Advice on the proper methods for the collection, maintenance, disclosure, and transfer of personnel, financial, and health-related information, and assistance with drafting notices and procedures, consent forms, and agreements relating to privacy concerns in the employment relationship
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:
- Cruise lines
- 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 and 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, which included implementing “economic distress” clauses, “operation efficiency” provisions, and the elimination of past practice restrictions.
- Employee Benefits: We implemented the consolidation of retirement plans for a hotel management company, advised on significant means to reduce multi-employer withdrawal liability, and restructured a medical plan to save future costs and comply with new health care requirements.
- Employment Discrimination: We successfully obtained summary judgment on behalf of a hotel management company that faced pregnancy and gender discrimination liability under a 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 health care laws.
- 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, which included 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 concerning the misclassifications of “exempt” employees, the treatment of service charges, tip pooling, overtime calculations, and other payment issues.