The Legacy of Tony Marshall and Today’s Pressing Legal Issues for Hoteliers

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We launch this year’s Hospitality Conversations™ with a look at the legacy of Dr. Anthony G. Marshall, or simply “Tony” to those of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him or known him personally. He was hired in 1972 as Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Florida International University in Miami.  In 1990, he became Dean of its School of Hospitality Management.  While Tony had additional career highlights, it was his semi-monthly article “AT YOUR RISK” in Hotel-Motel Management Magazine and his extensive speaking at association and brand meetings over a 20 year period that helped combat the mistaken belief that hospitality law was dull.

Tony passed away in late 2006 and I felt honored to have been one of three people who spoke at the memorial service 7 years ago this month held on campus at the University of Central Florida where Tony concluded his career.  As the industry representative who commented on his contributions to hotel owners, managers and the industry as a whole, I was able to share some of the lessons Tony brought to us about “reasonable care” and his message on better understanding common law negligence.   Through his wit and on stage banter, Tony effectively communicated that hoteliers should not fear the law, but do whatever they could to understand and embrace the law.

My career path has included success as an operating hotelier and corporate executive and I now share best practices and proven methods for hotel owners and senior managers in workshops and consulting.  I am not an attorney and do not offer legal advice, but I also have the opportunity now to complete research and offer professional services as an expert witness in hotel and hospitality cases.

In both the teaching environment and in working with counsel on hotel cases, I find the wisdom of Tony Marshall remains on target.  He taught us that hospitality law continues to evolve and in the absence of a specific statute, that common law and common sense can prevail when hotel owners and managers strive to do the right thing.

Hospitality Conversations™  interact with professionals in a wide range of the industry and this particular conversation is with two individuals who are familiar with both hospitality law and Marshall’s legacy.

These two individuals have exceptional credentials and regularly present a summary of the top 100+ legal cases that impact the hospitality industry the preceding year at the annual Law Conference held in Houston, Texas (This year’s dates are 2/10-12). Their credentials also include being recognized for their contributions to the industry with the  2013 Anthony G. Marshall Award, which is given in recognition of pioneering and lasting contributions to the field of hospitality law.

Diana S. Barber, J.D., CHE, is a full-time Lecturer at the School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; where she has taught since the summer of 2003. She teaches hospitality law, introductory hospitality and also serves as the Program Director of the School of Hospitality’s Study Abroad program  with a European Hospitality Experience to Spain, France, Monaco, Italy and Switzerland.

Additional recognitions and service

  • 2011 Teaching Excellence Award from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business
  • Georgia State University’s Study Abroad Program Director of the year for 2011
  • Recipient of the 2010 Hospitality Faculty of the Year award
  • Since 2007, on the editorial board of Hospitality Law monthly newsletter
  • Service as a litigation industry expert
  • Authors  a monthly column for the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association newsletter.
  • Recently inducted into Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.
  • “Of Counsel” with Berman Fink Van Horn, PC, a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, which is also the general counsel to the GHLA.

She began her law practice as an associate attorney at King  & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia after graduating cum laude from Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. She then spent over fourteen years as associate general counsel for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, G.A.H.A., and the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association.

Karen Morris, JD LL.M. is a Judge, Lawyer, Professor and Author.   She teaches a range of law courses (penal, constitutional, business, environmental and hospitality)  both online and traditional classroom and her background with those four roles gives her a wide range of accomplishments:

  • Columnist at Hotel and Motel Management Magazine, “Legally Speaking” since 2007 (which followed the 20+ year “At Your Risk” series from the late Dr. Tony Marshall)
  • Blogger for Cengage Publishing Company
  • Author of the textbook, Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law
  • Professor with Monroe Community College since 1980 and was the 1st community college professor in the state university system to receive designation of Distinguished Professor (2006)
  • Published in 2011 Law Made Fun through Harry Potter’s Adventures
  • UNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2002
  • MCC Excellence in Teaching Award, 1994
  • Past President – Faculty Senate;  Past President – Northeast Academy of Legal Studies in Business
  • Former Member – Governing Council Faculty Association
  • Faculty Advisor to Hillel; Past Faculty Advisor to Phi Theta Kappa, MCC’s Honor Society
  • Former Faculty Advisor to College Democrats Club
  • Guest Speaker to many industry groups
  • Former Assistant District Attorney;  Former In-House Counsel for Macy’s Department Store

She has also been elected by town residents six times, serving since 1994 as Brighton Town Justice, is the author of numerous precedent-setting decisions, the Administrative Judge for Brighton Town Court and has Adjudicated 75,000 cases

I asked both Diana and Karen two questions I hear regularly in our training programs:

  1. What would you say have been the biggest changes in hospitality law affecting hotel owners in the past 5 years?
  2. What would you opine are the two biggest issues hotel managers face in the coming year?

Their responses were focused and to the point.

Karen Morris

  • Employment issues remain hot, and as such are a mine field for restaurateurs and hoteliers.
  • Retaliation, discrimination, sexual harassment, overtime pay, failure to check applicants’ credentials and references, and arbitration clauses remain the subject of many a lawsuit.  ( Hotel owners and managers should)   Think prompt and conduct a thorough investigation, followed by appropriate discipline and employee training. This can significantly reduce liability.
  • Another topic that doesn’t quit is franchising.  The contract between the franchisor and franchisee is critical.  A franchisee should study it and consult at length with his/her lawyer and accountant to fully understand the undertaking.
  • Not infrequently, insurance issues surface in lawsuits.  As with franchising, the language of the contract is determinative. Hospitality managers are well-advised to employ their lawyer to review contracts of all stripes before signing.  This can save many legal problems down the road.
  • Finally, premises liability (negligence) remains a significant cause of lawsuits.  Managers cannot for a moment let up their guard when looking for dangerous conditions in and around their facilities.

Diana Barber

As for the responses to your questions, I think Karen nailed it.

  • We continue to see employment cases take front and center.  I put great weight on this as we only review cases that have gone through the judicial system so we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg.  There must be many, many more that get settled or fizzle out long before a court hears the case.
  • Employers must be mindful that they must ALWAYS conduct themselves with fairness and be professional.
  • They must respect all employees and not play favorites.
  • The workplace is not the place to allow one’s true self to emerge, even in a free country.  Too much is at stake and businesses and reputations are always at risk.  One’s guard should never go down.
  • As with all other cases (premises liability comes to mind), employers must take a proactive stance and steer clear away from potential liabilities.  Preventative mindset is key.  Not to live in fear about doing the wrong thing; everyone makes mistakes.  But the hope is to minimize these mistakes and learn from them.
  • Constant employee training is crucial and should not be cast aside when budgetary times are challenging.

I also asked Karen a 3rd question, as she represented academia in offering comments at the January 2007 memorial service with her insights on the legacy of Tony Marshall.  Karen knew Tony professionally and personally, as co-author with the late Norman Cournoyer (of the University of Massachusetts) and Tony of a well regarded text on hospitality law

The 3rd questions was: What Tony Marshall memory might you be willing to share?

Karen Morris

Here’s one of my favorite Tony stories.  One of Tony’s many hats was Dean of a Hospitality program at a Florida University. One year at a conference of Hospitality Professors, he addressed the attendees on the topic of “Don’t Mow Your Lawn on Friday Afternoon.”  When this title was detected in the program by conferees, everyone scratched their heads.  Turns out he was in fact urging professors to refrain from tending to the grass during the weekend lead-in.

The reason: Many people don’t think professors work very hard, and that impression is reinforced if professors are seen as having the leisure time to mow their lawns during, what for most people, are normal business hours.  I was very impressed with Tony’s attention to detail!

That focus on even the small aspects of an organization is needed to run a lawsuit-free enterprise, whether an educational institution, a hotel or restaurant, or any other type of business. Even though the number of people who specifically remember him diminishes with time,  Anthony Marshall left a legacy that continues to positively impact us.

I recall one of his favorite sayings was “You’re a good man (woman), and he’d use your name!”

Thank you for your lessons and wisdom, Tony,  and you were a very good man!

John Hogan

Dr. John Hogan, CHA CMHS CHE CHO is a career business professional and educator who has held senior leadership with responsibility in several organizations involving operational, academic and entrepreneurial enterprise. He has demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor and is frequently invited to speak at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events. He also acts as an expert witness in both research and testimony in hospitality industry related cases.

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