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Posts from November 2010.

In this week’s “late due to Snowmageddon II” post, Diana Shukis, a partner in our Employment law practice group and long-time member of our Hospitality team, discusses the basic elements necessary to minimize your organization’s risk of harassment in the workplace, including a step-by-step approach to avoiding, and what to do in the event it occurs. Of course, the easiest way to ensure you have all the training and assistance you need is to give Diana a call.

Workplace harassment continues to be a serious concern because of its negative business impacts and serious liability risks for employers in all industries, including those in the hospitality community. It is vital for hotel managers and human resources professionals to review their organizations’ policies and practices regarding harassment and make any necessary improvements to avoid negative impacts. Workplace harassment based on race, ethnicity, disability or the perception of disability, sex, sexual orientation (in Washington and some other states), religion or age is prohibited by law.

Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) filed suit against the Lake Street Bar & Grill in Kirkland and its individual owners on October 20, 2010, alleging four counts of willful copyright infringement for “unauthorized public performance of musical compositions in BMI’s repertoire.”  BMI asked the court for statutory damages—not BMI’s proven lost revenue, but damages that the U.S. Copyright Act allows copyright owners to request if they don’t want to bother with calculating actual damages. The court may order damages in any amount between $750 and $30,000. Even worse for Lake Street, if the allegation of willful infringement can be proved, the court may award BMI up to $150,000 under the same statute.

Remember, this is for only four separate instances of copyright infringement.

For those of you that routinely purchase split cases of wine, December 8 is an important date. On December 8, the Washington State Liquor Control Board will hold public hearings in Olympia on proposed regulatory changes that would authorize wine distributors to collect handling fees from hotels, restaurants and other retail licensees that order and receive split cases of wine.  As you may have already guessed, the newly proposed rule is the result of a request made by the Washington Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association.

Given the number of questions I've received recently from clients who've heard rumors about tip pooling becoming legal, I thought it time to update everyone. The short answer is (at least for now) that employers in Washington and Oregon may initiate mandatory tip pools under certain circumstances.

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’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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