Industry Update
Opinion Article30 January 2012

Today’s Most Pressing Legal Issues for Hotel Owners and Managers!

Hospitality Conversations™


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When one reads general business and industry publications, it sometimes appears that social media has grabbed the attention of many writers as the current trend and the topic needing additional coverage and insights. While it is very clear that social media has become a major force, the discussion groups in many LinkedIn hospitality groups include questions and answers on many additional topics. These include operations, hiring, training, development, customer service, technology and other areas.


"Learning never exhausts the mind"

Leonardo da Vinci

Keeping that in mind, our first 2012 Hospitality Conversations™ was with Dr. William Frye, CHE of Niagara University, who has enhanced his professional knowledge by his active involvement in faculty internships with both Marriott and Hyatt Hotels. Dr. Frye offered a diverse number of topics that he believes face hospitality business professionals today.

For our next Hospitality Conversations™, I contacted another well-known professional who is a frequent guest speaker at professional, legal and writing associations.

Karen Morris is a Judge, Lawyer, Professor and Author. [i] She also someone who "walks the talk":

  • 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 the designation of Distinguished Professor (2006)
  • Published in 2011 Law Made Fun through Harry Potter's Adventures.

She has also been elected by town residents six times, serving more than 17 years 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 Lawyer Morris two questions:

  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?

Her responses were focused and to the point.

"The biggest issue hotel managers face in the coming year vis-à-vis the law is compliance with the myriad applicable statutes, rules and duties owed.

A hotel faces potential legal consequences for all of the following:

  • negligence in the maintenance of its premise
  • failure to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum pay, overtime pay, equal pay, child labor)
  • discrimination against employees based on minority status
  • denial of services to guests perceived as illegal discrimination
  • contending with internet reviews, disagreements with a franchisor
  • overstepping bounds with unions
  • misapplying tip pools
  • eradicating bed bugs and other pests
  • dram shop violations
  • food issues
  • security concerns
  • insufficient insurance
  • trademark and copyright violations
  • securing and maintaining necessary business licenses
  • tax obligations
  • sanitation issues in spas
  • contract disagreements with suppliers
  • guests' rights to privacy
  • SEC mandates
  • Managing employees to ensure compliance with all of the above, and much more.

Missteps in any one of these areas can result in liability. Clearly hotel management is not for the faint of heart. "

Judge Morris is one of a team of professionals who, with Diana Barber of
Georgia State University, that will leading a segment at the upcoming February 8-10, 2012 Conference in Houston, Texas that is always enjoyed by participants. There will be brief summaries of the top 100+ cases that impacted the hospitality industry of the past year, with highlights of the most interesting ones

The Hospitality Law Case reviews usually include

  • Food & Beverage Liability cases
  • Franchise disputes and resolutions
  • how to avoid negative publicity and liability by learning what "not to do
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (minimum wages, overtime pay, child labor, equal pay for equal work),
  • Discrimination
  • tip pool issues
  • contract disputes
  • insurance matters
  • trademark and copyright violations
  • licensing requirements
  • spa lawsuits and more

Keys to Success | Hospitality Tip of the Week™:

Focus on the Need to Keep Learning

"The need to keep learning "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young, but becomes constantly more valuable regardless of physical capacity."

Harvey Ullman

  • KEYS TO SUCCESS is the inclusive title for my new 2012 workshops and keynote programs, hospitality services, columns and a new series of online training options. 2012 year's writings will expand to a series of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including:
  • Lessons from the Field
  • The P-A-R Principle ™
  • Hotel Common Sense and
  • Principles for Success
  • Professor Morris is the Author of Legal textbooks and, instructional software including Criminal Law in New York (co-authored) - a treatise for lawyers , New York Cases in Business Law - College Textbook , Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Law - College Textbook , and is
  • She has taught both online and in person courses in Penal Law, Criminal Procedure, Constitutional Law, Business Law, Legal Environment of Business and Hotel and Restaurant Law.
  • She has a number of professional recognitions including SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, and MCC Excellence in Teaching Award, and served as Past President - Faculty Senate, Past President - Northeast Academy of Legal Studies in Business and as a Former Member - Governing Council Faculty Association.
  • She has served as past Faculty Advisor to a number of campus groups and in the Monroe County Legislature.
  • All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. Dr. John J Hogan, CHE, CHA, CMHS 602-799-5375 [email protected]


    More from John Hogan, CHA CHMS CHE CHO

    John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events. He is CEO and Co-Founder of , which has more than 2000 resource pages and has become the #1 independent website for hotel owners and managers. He is also the Principal of , which offers hotel expert witness services and hospitality consulting..

    Contact us for assistance – [email protected] 602-799-5375 : [email protected]

    KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for our programs, hospitality services and columns. This year's writings focus on a variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my "HOW TO" articles, HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS™, Lessons from the Field™, Hotel Common Sense™, THE P-A-R PRINCIPLE™ and Principles for Success.

    All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. This article may not be reproduced without the expressed permission of the author. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

    John Dr. John Hogan CHA CMHS CHE CHO
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