HR-related Articles

Five Essential Employment Law Tips for Hospitality Businesses

Five essential employment law tips for hospitality businessesThe hospitality industry provides fertile soil for growing a nasty, parastic weed - employment-related lawsuits. Its high employee turnover, large percentage of hourly workers, and often young, uneducated, and inexperienced work force, are just a few of the industry’s characteristics that lend to consistent employment litigation. The litigation trend, unfortunately, show no signs of slowing down. Hospitality employees, armed with an arsenal of legal claims, are suing their employers in record numbers, and costing businesses countless millions in settlements, defense costs, and adverse publicity.

The good news is that an employer can effectively prevent litigation by developing and implementing a top-notch risk management program. The following are five essential steps that hospitality business employers can take to help minimize the threat of litigation:

1. PROVIDE A POLICY HANDBOOK
Regardless of whether your business is a single-unit shop or a 500 store chain, it is critical to have an employee handbook. At a minimum, the handbook should contain: 1) policies regarding ”at-will” employment, equal opportunity, harassment, and discrimination; 2) grievance procedures or ”open door” policies; and 3) policies regarding attendance, clocking in and out, breaks, and meals. Your legal counsel can help you write an effective handbook.

2. FOLLOW ALL WAGE AND HOUR LAWS
One of the biggest threats to employers in the hospitality industry are wage and hour suits because of high turnover and the prevalence of hourly employees. Learn the law on overtime pay, rest and meal breaks, and final paychecks and follow them strictly. Make sure that your managers enforce these rules by evaluating managers on how well they are complying with the law. Do periodic audits of timesheets and pay-stubs.

3. TRAIN YOUR MANAGERS AND SUPERVISORS
Nothing causes hospitality businesses more employment-related headaches than the failure to properly train management staff. The outcome of an employment lawsuit often hinges upon the actions or inaction of management. Train every single manager or supervisor on:

• Properly interviewing;
• New hire paperwork;
• How to recognize and deal with inappropriate workplace conduct;
• How to report injuries or incidents (slip and falls, assaults, shopliftings and robberies);
• Wage and hour laws

4. ESTABLISH ANTI-DISCRIMINATION AND ANTI-HARASSMENT POLICIES
Harassment and discrimination lawsuits, pervasive in the hospitality industry, often result in costly EEOC settlements or adverse jury verdicts—not to mention embarrassing and unwanted media publicity. The key to avoiding discrimination or harassment lawsuits is to develop and implement effective anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Such policies should foster an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment, encourage reporting if incidents do occur, and require swift disciplinary action for violation.

5. BE PROACTIVE & CONSISTENT
Upon any indication of a possible violation of federal, state, or local employment laws, promptly investigate the matter and attempt to resolve it before the employee feels forced to report it. The key elements to being proactive are swift and appropriate investigation of any complaints, followed by appropriate corrective action where warranted. Also, be consistent in following procedures for discipline and termination; a terminated employee is less likely to sue if they feel that they have been heard and treated consistently.

These recommendations above are no substitute for individualized legal advice. If you have specific questions, consult your counsel.

Source: http://www.bullivant.com/Five-essential-employment-law-tips-for-hospitality

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