For an industry that depends on public interaction with its facilities and its employees, hospitality carries significant risk. A lot can go wrong: venues that are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an inappropriate exchange between a club employee and a member, union organizing, a wage and hour class action. At Epstein Becker Green, we’ve been representing hotels, resorts, cruise lines, restaurants, spas, casinos, private clubs, and others for over 40 years. We understand the unique challenges of their business and the many employment, labor, and workforce management issues that arise.
Safeguarding Workforce Assets with Tailored Advice and Training
Whether we’re expanding a compliance program, reviewing pay practices, or navigating health care and health benefit updates, we draw on our deep industry knowledge and benchmarking data to promote safe and productive work environments. Our policies, handbooks, and training programs are specifically tailored to best practices and preventive strategies for professional and courteous face-to-face interaction with colleagues and customers. When circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic necessitate large reductions in force, our guidance ensures compliance at every step of the process.
Proven Litigation Strategies for High-Exposure Problems
Our team of seasoned litigators draws on deep experience defending employers in high-profile cases involving claims of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, and breach of contract. When confronted with a class action alleging wage and hour violations or independent contractor misclassification, we act quickly to get the case dismissed or drastically limit exposure. Our lawyers have even challenged the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and secured new guidance that enabled restaurants and other businesses to create tip pools for tipped and non-tipped employees.
Proactive Labor Relations for Productive Workforces
Hospitality employers, especially hotels, country clubs, and resorts, need an experienced partner to support their labor-management relations objectives. Our lawyers have worked at the National Labor Relations Board, the DOL, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and in state and local agencies regulating labor-management relations in the public and private sector. We regularly help our clients handle their most complex challenges, whether they’re negotiating new contracts or collective bargaining agreements, or trying to maintain their non-union status.
We’ve Got Accessibility Covered
ADA compliance is paramount in the hospitality industry. Our deep bench of lawyers and technology auditors represent clients in all accessibility concerns involving their accommodations, public venues, physical workspaces, and websites. We resolve legal and regulatory claims quickly and mitigate future risk by negotiating positive compliance terms with the DOJ, performing brick-and-mortar facility audits, and reviewing accessible construction design plans. Our industry-leading technology consulting team provides full-service advice and audits. They help companies ensure that their websites and mobile applications meet ADA guidelines for mobility, hearing, vision, or communication disabilities.
- Defended a hotel company with properties across the country in a DOL investigation of its pay practices. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we concluded the matter in six weeks with no findings of back wages or penalties due—a rarity in hospitality employer investigations.
- Resolved a significant regulatory accessibility investigation for a global cruise line. We reached a comprehensive, landmark agreement to enhance the client’s existing accessibility policies, practice, and procedures. In extensive negotiations with the regulators, we offered new and creative approaches to resolving concerns that were supported by architectural designs and economic data.
- Counseled two major hotel chains severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic on preparing WARN Act notices in dozens of states and in reporting the employee furloughs and terminations to governmental entities. Due to our efforts, these furloughs and closures resulted in zero lawsuits filed and no WARN violations alleged.
- Represented a major privately held owner of budget-friendly hotels in its labor relations initiatives, which have allowed the client to maintain non-union status.
- Won a three-week jury trial for a large hotel and entertainment company, in which the former employee had alleged a hostile work environment based on age.