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Posts from August 2012.

Have you ever seen the iconic advertisements on the side of the Hotel Figueroa in Los Angeles? I bet you have - if not on a commute opportunity through the metropolis, then in a movie. Or, perhaps your business is similar to the Pier House 60, Clearwater Beach Marina Hotel where a condition of approval required compliance with both the public art requirements for the development and the local sign code. If you are interested in how to avoid an eight-armed strangle on your business’ commercial speech, read on for the latest on the enforceability of local sign regulations.

Some employers don’t take the Form I-9 seriously, but they should. The government has significantly increased its audits of all kinds of employers – not just the bad guys - and are assessing hefty fines for mere technical violations. This is particularly true in the hospitality industry, which can be a target for audits and which, because of employee turnover, has seen disproportionately high fines.

Every employer knows that the government’s one-page form, the “Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification,” must be completed for every new employee. And most make sure that they get theirs completed in a timely manner. But failure to be vigilant regarding the timelines or whether the forms are completed fully or correctly can cost even the best employer thousands of dollars in fines.

Most employers consider themselves good guys. They don’t purposely seek out or hire employees who are not authorized to be employed in the U.S. But those employers are mistaken if they think that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement arm of the Department of Homeland Security, only audits unscrupulous employers. ICE does focus on certain industries in which there is a history of unauthorized employment, but the reality is that ICE has become very good at conducting audits, and has a team of forensic auditors on staff that it wants to keep busy. ICE does that by initiating seemingly random individual audits or nationwide actions in which up to 1,000 audits are served in a single day, providing as little as three days’ notice before documents have to be surrendered. The writing is on the wall – employers should plan for and expect a government audit of its Form I-9 documentation.

Managing a business is hard. Managing a hospitality business is even harder. You try to have your employees understand that top notch customer service is the be all and end all of your business. They are your reputation. They are your “face.” But, there is always that one employee…

Reality shows that use mystery diners or guests to demonstrate how the bad employee can drag down the entire business may be entertaining for the public, but are nightmares for hospitality managers. It is easy to do the immediate firing when the mystery diners have the bad behavior on film, but that rarely happens in the real world. So, how do you manage the employee who is causing you endless headaches? Set expectations, respond consistently and document your efforts to change the bad behavior.

The United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a Statement of Objections this Tuesday alleging that industry giants Booking.com, Expedia, Inc. and InterContinental Hotels Group violated the UK’s Competition Act of 1998. The Statement of Objections will not be made public, but from OFT’s comments, its rate parity and best rate guarantees that are causing the trouble.

Back in February, we gave you the heads up that Oregon was in the process of adopting the 2009 FDA Food Code. Bar and food cart owners, restaurateurs, and folks employed in the food industry were urged to prepare for new changes in labeling laws and implement best practices to protect themselves from liability once the new rules were announced.

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Greg Duff
Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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