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WHAT WE DO

HospitalityLawyer.com® converges legal, safety, and security solutions for the hotel, food and beverage, private club, meeting, event, and corporate travel industries.

We are a worldwide network of attorneys that focus on hospitality, travel and tourism issues; a marketing conduit for suppliers of legal, safety and security solutions to reach hospitality developers and operators in need of those solutions; we mitigate critical incidents, injuries, litigation and liability within the hospitality industry, in the U.S. and abroad by facilitating the creation, collection, and dissemination of legal, safety and security information, products and services.

WEEKLY SPOTLIGHT

Sandy Gar Eckert Seamans
Attorney of the Week
Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott

Overview Sandy Garfinkel is a business litigator who serves as the chair of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott’s Data Security & Privacy Group. As a nationally regarded authority on data security and privacy matters, Sandy is regularly published and speaks at numerous industry conferences on preparing for and responding to data breaches. In addition to his data breach response practice, Sandy works closely with the firm’s business clients concerning all aspects of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance and enforcement. He works with clients on data security and privacy matters across a variety of industries and sectors, including hospitality, consumer products, insurance, education, health care, manufacturing, and telecommunications. Businesses struggle to stay ahead of the increasing threats to sensitive data and the emerging regulatory requirements, which is why Sandy counsels his clients on laws relating to the collection, use, and protection of personal information as well as mitigating risks and reducing exposure to investigations and litigation arising from the loss, theft, or exposure of personal data. He guides clients through all stages of breach matters, including advance planning and preparation, response and notification, government investigations and regulatory response, and, when necessary, litigation.

Law Firm of the Week
The Denney Law Group

The Denney Law Group is proud to represent start-up companies in various stages of life. Our Nose-to-Tail Law Practice® counsels clients from founding, through growth, to exit, providing high-quality legal services to various industries. We don’t focus on singular problems; rather, we seek to build lasting relationships with our clients so we may grow together. We are exceptionally proud of our nationally-recognized Restaurant, Bar, Alcohol & Hospitality practice. Whether you’re a single-unit restaurant, growing regional chain, seasoned multi-unit operator, hotel, bar, nightclub, brewery, winery, distillery, spirits company, caterer, or private chef, we can address the unique issues your business will face.

Deloitte
Company of the Week
Deloitte

We believe that we’re only as good as the good we do. All the facts and figures that talk to our size and diversity and years of history, as notable and important as they may be, are secondary to the truest measure of Deloitte: The impact we make in the world. So, when people ask, “What’s different about Deloitte?” the answer resides in the many specific examples of where we have helped Deloitte member firm clients, our people, and sections of society to achieve remarkable goals, solve complex problems, or make meaningful progress. Deeper still, it’s in the beliefs, behaviors, and fundamental sense of purpose that underpin all that we do. With more than 150 years of hard work and commitment to making a real difference, our organization has grown in scale and diversity—approximately 245,000 people in 150 countries and territories, providing audit & assurance, tax, risk and financial advisory and consulting services—yet our shared culture remains the same. For us, good isn’t good enough. We aim to be the best at all that we do—to help clients realize their ambitions, to make a positive difference in society, and to maximize the success of our people. This drive fuels the commitment and humanity that run deep through our every action. That’s what makes us truly different at Deloitte. Not how big we are, where we are, nor what services we offer. What really defines us is our drive to make an impact that matters in the world.

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The Latest from Converge...

Our CONVERGE BLOG focuses on legal, safety, and security challenges for Hospitality, Travel, Travel Vendors and Corporate Travel Buyers as individuals and businesses.
Our blog features exclusive content from our contributors, who collectively represent the full spectrum of hospitality law, risk management and comprehensive duty of care solutions.

What Employee Accommodations are Required in a Politically Correct World?

II. What are Your Responsibilities as an Employer?
The federal American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and many similar state laws require employers to “reasonably” accommodate an otherwise qualified disabled applicant or employee to perform the essential job functions of the position or enjoy equal benefits of employment as similarly situated employees. Similarly, other federal and state civil rights statutes prohibiting discrimination based on gender, religion, and race require an employer to accommodate an employee’s reasonable request for schedule changes, dress, and grooming practices due to religious beliefs or gender identity. The law also requires employers to reasonably accommodate pregnant employees. The issue of whether the employer must accommodate gender non-conforming or non-binary employees has not yet been fully resolved by the trend is to required such accommodations.

II. What are Your Responsibilities as an Employer?
The law does not require that you meet the specific demands of the employee, only that you make “reasonable” accommodation when called to do so. We will explore numerous examples from various courts and the EEOC of what constitutes a “reasonable” accommodation under various circumstances. However, the trend is clear that courts will require employers to at least attempt to accommodate objectively reasonable requests that do not endanger coworkers or severely impact business operations. We will also explore some of the unfortunate extremes to which some cases have ventured when requiring accommodation.

The law does not require that you meet the specific demands of the employee, only that you make a “reasonable” accommodation when called to do so. We will explore numerous examples from various courts and the EEOC of what constitutes a “reasonable” accommodation under various circumstances. However, the trend is clear that courts will require employers to at least attempt to accommodate objectively reasonable requests that do not endanger coworkers or severely impact business operations. We will also explore some of the unfortunate extremes to which some cases have ventured when requiring an accommodation.

III. What Are Your Rights as an Employer?
The courts and the EEOC have recognized various legitimate limitations on an employee’s right to demand workplace accommodations. We will explore a few well-recognized legal exceptions to the accommodation requirement including safety concerns and undue hardship to the employer. We will also provide some of the “go-to” defenses when an employee makes objectively unreasonable accommodation requests.

IV. Striking a Balance between Your Rights and Responsibilities in a Politically Correct World
Social and news media often shape the public’s view of the world—and of employers. Often, employers feel the pressure to make accommodations to demanding employees when not legally required to do so. What are the ramifications of making such accommodations? If you give the employee an inch will he take a mile? We will explore the practical and legal effects of both enforcing your rights and the failure to take a consistent stand on certain demands for accommodation.


Authors

Barry Montgomery – Partner, KPM Law
Barry, a partner with KPM LAW, began his career in litigation before he graduated law school by working as an intern at the United States Attorney’s office where he had the opportunity to prosecute federal criminal cases. In his first case, Barry successfully prosecuted a business owner for manufacturing counterfeit currency and bank checks. It was at this point that he decided that he would spend his career in commercial litigation. Barry then began representing insurance companies in fraud and coverage cases as well as personal injury defense.

While Barry still represents insurers and their insureds in commercial litigation, he now focuses his practice on labor and employment law and litigation, as well as professional liability litigation. Barry believes that labor is the force that drives our economy and that an organization’s greatest resource is its employees. Barry believes that management and professional decisions can be vigorously defended in and out of court without compromising an organization’s brand or relationship with its workforce.

Brian A. Cafritz – Partner, KPM Law
Brian has been an invaluable member of the KPM LAW team since 1994, his commitment having helped solidify and expand the foundation of KPM LAW’s regional defense network. Brian primarily focuses his practice on the defense of Fortune 500 companies that operate under large self-insured retentions. With bar licenses in four jurisdictions, he has built a dedicated team and developed an efficient system that allows him to aggressively defend all matters in a regional practice that covers the entire mid-Atlantic region.

As Brian’s practice became more focused on Retail and Restaurant litigation, it became evident to him that the Plaintiff’s bar was more organized in sharing its resources, and so in 2006 – 2007, Brian co-founded the National Retail and Restaurant Defense Association (NRRDA) to promote the education and communication channels of industry leaders and counsel. Brian was elected to serve two terms as the association’s first president. Under Brian’s leadership, NRRDA continued to grow. Today, NRRDA boasts over 600 members and is seen as a leader in the Retail and Restaurant sector.


This article is part of our Conference Materials Library and has a PowerPoint counterpart that can be accessed in the Resource Libary.

HospitalityLawyer.com® provides numerous resources to all sponsors and attendees of The Hospitality Law Conference: Series 2.0 (Houston and Washington D.C.). If you have attended one of our conferences in the last 12 months you can access our Travel Risk Library, Conference Materials Library, ADA Risk Library, Electronic Journal, Rooms Chronicle and more, by creating an account. Our libraries are filled with white papers and presentations by industry leaders, hotel and restaurant experts, and hotel and restaurant lawyers. Click here to create an account or, if you already have an account, click here to login.

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HVS 2019 Hotel Parking Survey

Most hotels in urban centers profit considerably off of available parking capacity and, depending on the garage size and operational strategy of the hotel owner, garages can be significant value drivers. Our experience reflects that parking garages can operate with departmental profit as high as 40% to 50% if managed internally, or garages can be significant profit centers when operated by experienced, third-party garage operators. With more and more travelers using shared ride services to get around town, smart hotel operators are renting excess parking capacities on monthly contracts to commuters working in adjacent office buildings. These monthly contracts can boost profits even higher. Moreover, monthly pass users leave garage capacity available overnight when hotel guests may require the spaces the most. 

This summer we completed our first annual survey of typical overnight parking rates nationwide. Not surprisingly, the highest rates for parking are generally found in New York City, including the $95 parking rate currently charged by The Plaza. Nightly rates at luxury and upper-upscale properties in New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago tend to trend near the $70 to $75 mark. By comparison, most other city centers offer overnight parking at a bargain or do not charge for overnight parking. Also note the following findings: 

  • The following data reflect valet parking charges; if self-parking is an option, we have found these hotels discount the valet parking rate by $10 to $15 dollars on average. 
  • Hotels that reported free parking (when the range in the table begins with $0) are generally located on the fringe of central business districts, and not directly in the center of downtown.
  • Luxury and upper-upscale hotels fall at the upper end of the range, whereas midscale hotels fall at the lower end of the range.
  • Bold green reflects the cities with the highest overnight parking charges, whereas light green still reflects high parking rates, but not at the nation’s peak level. 

From a valuation perspective, be careful when comparing properties in city centers. A few may have major parking components (abnormal for a market) that skew a value high on a per- key basis, compared to another similarly-sized property on solely a room-count basis. It is important to inquire about garage utilization by daily and monthly users, daily parking rates, monthly contract rates, and the trends in all of the above over the last several years.


Data collection assistance provided by HVS team members Yi Ann Pan, Ziggy Hallgarten, and Bryanna Andersen.

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How Business Travelers Can Guard Against Polluted Air

Traveling for business means exposure to potential risks such as political unrest, terrorist attacks, medical crises—and air pollution. As outlined in BCD Travel’s Inform report, Air Quality and Business Travelonly half of the 100 most visited cities worldwide have clean air. Below are tips and tricks business travelers can use to guard against the harmful effects of air pollution.

Before you travel to a destination with unhealthy air pollution:

  • Familiarize yourself with your company’s virtual meeting capabilities. Maybe you can avoid a trip to a city with poor air quality.
  • Get to know your company’s travel policy on health and emergency plans.
  • Monitor the Air Quality Index, weather websites and local media to understand if the risk is particularly high during your stay.
  • Travelers with a medical history of lung or heart issues should be extra vigilant.
  • Discuss your planned trip with your doctor.
  • Carry appropriate medications, such as inhalers for asthma, as well as documentation. You may need a doctor’s letter to get the medicines through customs.
  • Research whether the air quality in your destination improves certain times of the year, and consider postponing your trip until pollution decreases.

During your business trip to a city with poor air quality

  • Exercise outdoors early in the morning to lower potential exposure to pollution.
  • Avoid high-traffic areas where pollution will be worst.
  • Use mass transportation and ride in enclosed cars.
  • Consider wearing a personal air quality monitor to assess risks in real time.
  • Opt for glasses, rather than contact lenses, to minimize eye irritation. Or pack plenty of saline solution.
  • Consider wearing a pollutant-filtering mask, such as an N95 respirator.
  • Watch out for repeated coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, tightness in your chest or wheezing. All can be signs that you’re overexposed to polluted air. If you have these symptoms, go indoors immediately.

Get your Travel Risk Survival Kit

Close the gaps between the safety support your business travelers want and what your corporate program provides. Our Travel Risk Survival Kit describes the hazards ahead and offers solutions for overcoming them.


Breathing easier on business trips

BCD Travel’s Inform report, Air Quality and Business Travel, educates corporate travel managers and travelers about bad air hot spots and offers practical tips for protection.

Download the full report

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8 Airport Safety Tips

The easiest time for pickpockets, robbers, or a loss of personal belongings is when you are in motion. On the bookends of your trip, you should be hyper-aware of your surroundings. When you’re moving through the airport, there are all sorts of events: check-in, bag check, security checkpoint, convenience stop, walk to the terminal, and finally board the plane. Here are eight tips to keep your safety – and sanity – in check.

Research fees and document requirements before traveling.

Corruption remains a problem among customs and security personnel at some airports. Officials may insist that travelers pay fees or fines for fictitious violations. Some countries have strict requirements for certain documents, including vaccination records, and impose hefty (but legal) fines on travelers who do not have the required documents. If you are familiar with the published duties and fees, you can challenge the request for a fine. Bribes are illegal in every country- always use the term “fine” or “fee” when challenging the request for payment. If officials still insist on an additional fare, comply and pay the fine if the situation isn’t mitigated.

Stay vigilant entering the airport.

In places under constant threat, like Baghdad and Kabul, Afghanistan, security checkpoints begin miles from the terminal and include a myriad of scans, checks, and bomb-sniffing dogs. Following the Brussels airport bombing event, the airport added vehicle screening which occurs about a mile before the airport on the access road. US-based airports currently do not have street-side airport security; travelers can drive up to the terminal and use a convenient curbside bag-check. In this respect, it’s important to be aware of suspicious activity or baggage and report to airport security.

Be flexible.

While the aviation industry has made significant progress towards harmonizing aviation security screening standards across the world, some countries still have different procedures and standards. Travelers should not be alarmed if security procedures differ from those in their home country.

Be aware during bag check.

Have your ID at the ready and know the bag weight limit of the airline you’re flying. If prepared, you’re less likely to feel rushed or lose any belongings. Burglars have been known to hang around airports checking addresses to locate empty homes. It’s a good idea to make sure to hide your luggage tag so that passersby cannot view your home address.

Pack essentials in your carry-on.

To ensure the safekeeping of your electronics, medicine, and any other items that you will need access to during your flight, pack them in your carry-on. Keeping an eye on your carry-on is also important in wait lines. Bring a carry-on or purse that has a zipper to avoid a quick reach-and-grab. It may go without saying, but also never leave luggage unattended- even if someone next to you offers to watch it while you use the restroom.

Prepare for security checkpoints.

Once checked-in and in line for security, a standard rule of thumb is to take out electronics, cameras, and mobile devices and be ready to place them in a separate bin. Some checkpoint requirements are country-specific laws. For example, flights from some countries do not allow people to carry laptops in a carry-on. Other airports instruct the removal of shoes, belts, and anything metal. Know the security requirements of the places you are traveling to and from; you will be able to focus more on what is happening around you.

Move from landside to airside as quickly as possible.

Airside (post-security) areas of airports are less exposed to terrorism and crime than the landside, so travelers should try to get through from the landside to the airside as quickly as possible. Max Leitschuh, Sr. Intelligence Transportation Manager, says that passengers can take several steps to reduce their exposure to the possible threat of terrorist attacks in landside areas of airports. These include:

  • Only bring carry-on luggage if possible
  • Check in online before arriving at the airport
  • Print boarding passes at home or send to a mobile device
  • Proceed directly to security checkpoints after arriving at the airport instead of loitering in the landside areas
  • Sign up for trusted traveler programs that are available (such as TSA Pre Check)

Passengers can sometimes use security checkpoints at terminals or concourses different from the scheduled flight concourse if they connect to the airside portion of the airport and the lines are shorter.

Be cognizant when you reach your destination.

Long flights, time differences, and travel itself can leave travelers tired. Be sure to take necessary steps to re-energize prior to arriving at your destination. This will allow you to stay alert as you transition from the airplane to the airport. Use peripheral vision to stay aware of your surroundings as you migrate through the airport. Make sure you only use official taxis or transportation that has been booked ahead of time. If staying at a hotel, pre-arrange an airport transfer using the hotel transportation service.

It’s important that travelers purchase insurance before embarking on a trip. Travel insurance covers emergency help if needed.

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