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Washington hotel owners, operators and suppliers enjoyed two days of learning, socializing and recognizing their colleagues' successes at the recent Washington Lodging Association's 2011 Annual Conference at the incredible Tulalip Resort and Spa. This year's Conference featured a variety of presentations on workforce challenges, recent changes to the ADA, revenue management, fraud prevention and social media. 

In today’s post, HT&T team member Diana Shukis (Employment and Litigation) discusses the appropriate test, as determined by a recent Washington state appellate court decision, to decide whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee.

Our friends at Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau have issued a "Call to Action" regarding Substitute House Bill 1371: Boards and Commissions.  They have requested our help with the following:

Tom Norwalk, President and CEO of the Seattle Convention & Visitor's Bureau has issued an Urgent Action Request. Yesterday, House Ways & Means Chair Rep. Ross Hunter's (D-Medina) released his proposed 2011 Supplemental Budget, which eliminates funding for activities to promote tourism, effective March 1, 2011 - three months earlier than anticipated. Clearly, this proposed budget bodes ill for Washington State tourism. The text of Tom's request is below. Please consider taking appropriate action:

Given the recent attention paid by clients to local security issues (including the recent and well received Hotel Industry Security Forum sponsored with the Washington Lodging Association – see Ruth Walter’s recent post on this event), I thought it a good time to review the obligations imposed by law on hoteliers and restaurateurs in Washington and Oregon to protect their guests and customers from crimes committed by third parties.  In other words, what responsibility does a hotel or restaurant owner have for guests or customers who are injured (or whose property is damaged or stolen) by criminals.  As I explain below, the more a hotel or restaurant owners knows about potential criminal conduct at her establishment, the more likely it is that she may be held responsible for not warning and/or protecting her guests or clients against it.

This week, the Washington Lodging Association (WLA) brought together law enforcement officers, intelligence analysts and advisors from the Washington State Fusion Center and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to discuss hotel security, particularly in the context of terrorist attacks and large-scale natural disasters.

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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