As the nation’s largest employment and labor law firm, Littler well understands the complex workplace challenges faced by today’s hospitality employers.
Every day, our Hospitality Industry Group helps restaurants, hotels, resorts, and gaming facilities across the nation manage the myriad legal issues that impact the workplace. As a group, our attorneys represent national hotel and restaurant chains in wage and hour audits and litigation, union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining negotiations and labor arbitration, employment discrimination charges, and lawsuits. We address the labor and employment implications of mergers and acquisitions and counsel hospitality industry employers in every facet of employment and labor law. Inside the hospitality industry, Littler attorneys are widely recognized for their depth of knowledge and the creative tack they take in helping to solve workplace problems.
Littler Hospitality Industry Group Clients
- National and regional hotel and restaurant chains
- International resort and gaming facilities
- Individual and collective groups of hospitality franchisees
- Landmark hotels, restaurants, resorts and casinos
- Native American resorts and casinos
- National and regional hospitality and tourism associations
Our representative work and experience includes:
- Defending hospitality industry employers in class action and individual cases for discrimination, wage and hour violations, and benefits litigation.
- Auditing hospitality employers’ HR and wage and hour compliance, with specific focus on matters specific to the hospitality industry (e.g., tip credit, tip pooling, wage notice obligations, and predictive scheduling requirements).
- Providing industry-specific advice and counsel in employment matters to employers in the hospitality industry.
- Preparing hospitality industry-specific personnel policies and employee handbooks.
- Representing hotels and other hospitality employers in every phase of union/management relations, including organizing drives, unfair labor practice proceedings, arbitrations, contract negotiations, and the negotiation of neutrality agreements.
- Assisting hospitality employers in connection with organizing campaigns during the start-up phase and regular operations through training programs and the development of policies, procedures, and handbooks.
- Partnering with Littler’s Global Mobility and Immigration Practice Group to assess and address establishment-specific immigration concerns and provide I-9 compliance services and guidance.
- Advising and assisting hospitality employers with all the labor and employment law aspects of a pending merger or acquisition, including initial strategic planning and deal structuring advice, benefits risk management, formulation of separation and layoff procedures, drafting and negotiating employment-related deal documents and agreements, performing site assessments, negotiating with unions (both pre-and post-closing), drafting and reviewing employee communications and notices, and defending in deal-related employment litigation.
- Serving as outside counsel to regional hospitality and tourism associations.
Representative Employment Litigation Matters
- Favorable ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court rejecting the Delaware Department of Labor’s narrow interpretation of a state statute, and holding that restaurant employees engaged in direct guest service could be included in a mandatory tip pool and could be paid as tipped employees.
- Successful defense of a national chain in a wage and hour class action, in which present and former employees sued asserting a variety of claims under California’s Labor Code, including, among other things, the alleged denial of breaks and meal periods.
- Successful defense of a national chain in an EEOC discrimination and retaliation lawsuit involving a server over the age of 40 who was reassigned to a kitchen position. After winning a motion denying availability of punitive damages under the ADEA, the settlement value was reduced to approximately 5% of the original conciliation offer.
- Representation of a large national chain that was facing several lawsuits for failure to provide appropriate public accommodation to individuals with disabilities under the ADA. Prevailing on summary judgment in the first case created a road map for defeating similar lawsuits nationwide.
- Representation of a Nevada casino in a landmark gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a female dealer whose dress and refusal to wear makeup violated the company’s grooming and appearance policies.
- Obtained summary judgment upholding an employer’s grooming standards, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit.
- Representation of a national chain in an ADEA action brought by a male general manager over the age of 40. Using evidence that not only supported the stated reasons for termination but also allowed the client to bring a counterclaim, our client obtained voluntary dismissal in exchange for an agreement to drop the counterclaim.
Traditional Labor Matters
- Provided union prevention training and represented the operators of a luxury hotel in a union election. When the property was picketed by an engineering union, our client filed unfair labor practice charges, obtained an expedited election, coordinated the election campaign, ensured compliance with labor laws and prevailed in the election. The operator’s properties around the country are primarily nonunion, and prevailing in the dispute was important in maintaining non-union status not only at the local level but also for other properties throughout the country.
- Representation of a hotel management company in an organizing drive led by HERE, obtaining a ruling from the NLRB that the only appropriate voting unit would be one covering all employees. This ruling diluted the impact of the HERE’s core support and resulted in a dismissal of the organizing petition.
- Advised a national hotel chain that had an East Coast property involved in a decertification election.
- Defense of a national hotel chain in a case involving allegations by a lead union organizer of unfair labor practices in the course of a union organizing drive. The NLRB dismissed the charge, finding that the lead organizer’s improper conduct negatively impacted the hotel’s operations and mandated his termination.
- Representation of the management company of an upscale California property in collective bargaining agreement negotiations with HERE, through which the management company was able to secure contracts that were separate from, and in several key respects, better than the contracts in place with the property’s closest competitors.
Administrative Claims and Regulatory Advice
- Significant, meaningful involvement in policy issues in Washington and in state government on critical legislative issues such as joint employment, overtime, and state and city initiatives. Our clients file comments to proposed legislation and regulations, institute litigation, create coalitions, and influence the development of these important concerns.
- Advised a regional hospitality chain regarding the requirements of HIPAA and assisted the company in revising its policies to bring itself into compliance with the Act.
- Representation of a national hotelier in a wage and hour matter investigated by the U.S. Department of Labor in various states, in which the DOL agreed to both abandon a complaint for misclassification of certain exempt personnel and reduce the amount of unpaid overtime for certain misclassified employees.
- Successful preparation and administration of a blood-borne pathogen control plan in compliance with OSHA regulations for a regional operator after a line cook contracted Hepatitis A.
- Defense of an Arizona resort in a wage and hour complaint filed by a payroll clerk with the U.S. DOL and the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Analysis of computer records established that the complainant vastly overstated her claim for overtime, thus minimizing the client’s exposure. A subsequent comprehensive internal self-audit resulted in no additional finding of misclassification.
- Prevailed on a charge of wrongful termination under USERRA (based on reservist status) filed with DVETS against a Nevada casino-resort.