2016 Hospitality Upgrade’s Executive Vendor Summit

2016 Hospitality Upgrade’s Executive Vendor Summit is held in Atlanta, GA on March 30 – April 1, 2016.

For those of you who attended, or did not attend the conference, my presentation, “Evolving US and EU Privacy Laws”, is available below. The presentation reviews the rapidly changing landscape of US and EU privacy regulations and how compliance with those regulations will affect hotels and their many vendors and suppliers. 

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Update on Seattle Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance

Scales of justiceCharles Hausberg is a guest author and a member of GSB’s Labor and Employment practice group. You can reach Charles at chausberg@gsblaw.com or at 206.816.1525. 

In December 2015, the City of Seattle passed the “Wage Theft Prevention and Harmonization Ordinance,” which made changes to all four of Seattle’s labor standards ordinances—Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST), Minimum Wage, Wage Theft, and Fair Chance Employment.

Across the board, the new law provides harsher penalties for noncompliance than in the past. For example, there is now a rebuttable presumption that an employer has retaliated if it takes adverse action within 90 days of the employee’s exercise of protected rights. An employer in this situation must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the protected activity was not a factor in the decision to take adverse action. Thus, it is essential to carefully document all responses to concerns about employees’ protected rights as well as reasons for adverse employment actions.

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Please Don’t Pass the Salt (Labels): The Fight Over NYC’s Sodium Labeling Rule

Sticky note with saltAfter surviving its first go-around in court, New York City’s attempt to require restaurateurs to add sodium warnings to their menus has hit a roadblock in the form of a temporary injunction.

Perhaps taking inspiration from the FDA’s recent imposition of nutrition-labeling requirements on restaurant menus, the New York City Board of Health had approved a menu-labeling regulation of its own this past December. Under the regulation, the New York City Health Code was amended to require “Food Service Establishments” (or “FSEs”) to post salt-shaker icons on their menus next to any food item containing more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium – the FDA’s recommended daily allowance of the delicious mineral. The regulation also requires FSEs to include a statement on their menus that “[h]igh sodium intake can increase blood pressure and risk of heart disease and stroke.”

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Oregon’s Minimum Wage – What Now?

Oregon is making history, once again. The new minimum wage law (signed by Governor Brown on March 2, 2016) brings two new titles: 1.) the first state to implement a tiered minimum wage (the amount paid is dependent upon the location of the business); and 2.) the state with the highest minimum wage.  The passage of the new law has brought a mixed response. The cheers have emanated from the employees and the advocates for a livable wage. The jeers have emanated from businesses trying to figure out how they are going to keep their doors open. While the law is effective immediately, the first increase goes into effect July 1, 2016. So, without further ado, let’s get to the details so you can determine which camp you are joining.  Continue Reading

Sea-Tac Wage and Hour Class Action Lawsuits

Sea-Tac airportFourteen lawsuits were filed last week against employers at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for paying less than the $15 minimum wage approved by Sea-Tac voters in 2013. Defendants include baggage handling firms, rental car agencies, food-service establishments and logistics firms. These lawsuits have been filed by defendants represented by Attorney Duncan Turner of Badgley Mullins Turner and seek class action status. The lawsuits currently cover about 40 plaintiffs, although Mr. Turner estimates this could grow to 1,500 plaintiffs and that total back-pay sought could be $14 to $21 million.

Alaska Airlines and three other plaintiffs had filed a lawsuit arguing that the Sea-Tac minimum wage should not apply to the airport. The State Supreme Court ruled against them in August, 2015, and in December, 2015 rejected a request to review the case.

If you have any questions about these lawsuits, would like to review a copy of one of the complaints, or would like to discuss applicable wage & hour issues, please feel free to contact Greg Duff at gduff@gsblaw.com or 206.816.1470.

Bad News for Employers: In a Surprise, Ninth Circuit Upholds Tip Pooling Regulations

Tip money with coffeeIn the latest of a series of twists and turns regarding the legality of certain tip pools in Western states, on February 23, 2016, a divided three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals validated regulations by the Department of Labor (“DOL”) that significantly limit employers’ ability to have tip pools that include more than “customarily and regularly tipped” employees. This development means that employers operating in states or territories in the Ninth Circuit (covering Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands) cannot include in their tip pools “back of the house” employees (such as cooks or dishwashers) or other employees who are not customarily tipped. We examine the impact of and history behind this decision below.

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2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference

The annual HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference was held in New York, NY on February 17, 2016. 

For those of you who attended, or did not attend the conference, my presentation, “Distribution Parity: Where Do We Go From Here?”, is available below. It features an update on recent worldwide parity developments (through December 2015) as well as some practical distribution contracting recommendations.

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Free to contact me if you have any questions.

Is Your Tip Pool Policy a Recipe for Trouble?

TipsIn a recent blog post, we highlighted the trend amongst hoteliers and restaurateurs toward adopting service charge models to meet the rise in state and local minimum wage requirements. Although “no-tip” and “service charge” policies are receiving their fair share of attention in the news, employers with improperly designed tip pools are garnering their own headlines—and lawsuits. For example, Red Robin recently agreed to a $1.3 million settlement in response to class action claims against the company that it impermissibly included back of house kitchen staff in the servers’ tip pool. If your company requires employees to pool their tips, or is considering doing so, it will want to avoid some common and costly pitfalls that have beleaguered others. For starters:  Continue Reading

Are You Adopting a Service Charge Model to Help Raise Wages?

As lawmakers continue to increase the minimum wage in states and cities across the country, many hoteliers and restaurateurs are implementing service charges and tip pools in order to meet rising costs and help workers earn consistent and livable wages. If your company is considering making such a move, you will want to do your homework to avoid the negative headlines, legal complications and financial burden that can accompany improper implementation of service charge or tip pool policies. Today’s post will focus on service charges.

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HSMAI Lodging Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable

This year’s HSMAI Lodging Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable was held on December 8, 2015 at Washington, D.C.

For those of you who attended, or did not attend the Roundtable, my presentation, “Distribution Parity: Where Do We Go From Here?”, is available below. It features an overview of recent worldwide parity developments in the online distribution world.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

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