Don’t go it alone


Embrace your legal support system and prevent disaster

Owning and operating a hotel can be highly profitable, but there are various legal challenges hotel owners must navigate to safeguard their investment. From adhering to local ordinances and employment laws to ensuring guest safety, understanding and addressing these matters is crucial. This task is particularly daunting for independent hoteliers who don’t have access to franchisor guidance. Today we will explore three fundamental legal categories, so you have the information you need to be proactive rather than reactive. This will enable you to identify vulnerabilities and take steps to mitigate your risk of legal liability.

Keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of laws targeting hotel owners can be overwhelming. These regulations encompass labor ordinances, building codes, ADA guidelines, health and safety standards, and more. For independent hoteliers who lack a legal support system, staying informed about regulations is nearly impossible. By joining a network larger than yourself, such as local hotel associations, law firms, or legal group chats, you can stay updated of laws affecting your business. Non-compliance with even a single regulation can lead to fines, closure, or lawsuits.

Step two: Once you’re aware of the relevant laws, you must take action. Turning a blind eye or waiting for legal papers isn’t a viable strategy. If you’re unsure about the best approach to achieving compliance, reach out to your hotel network. Find a legal professional who understands the hotel business and is willing to offer free advice., just like the writer of this article.

Hotel owners face complex labor laws that govern various aspects of their operation, including hiring, wages, working conditions, and termination procedures. Compliance with these laws is essential to avoid lawsuits and penalties. Regularly reviewing employment policies, contracts, and practices can help mitigate risks and foster a fair and safe working environment.

Regardless of whether you’re an independent or franchise hotelier, staying on top of your human resources is crucial. Waiting for a lawsuit before you implement the correct policies will only lead to greater financial stress. Lean on your legal team to guide you on best employment practices and they’ll draft the necessary documents for your employees to sign. If you don’t have an employee handbook, you need one. It outlines all your policies and procedures to protect you from lawsuits and will act as your first line of defense in the event of a lawsuit. Employees should sign handbook acknowledgment forms confirming their understanding of the hotel’s policies. This approach will protect you from employee complaints related to discrimination, wrongful termination, lack of meal breaks, overtime, etc. However, it’s essential for you and your management staff to adhere to the protocols outlined in the handbook for it to be effective.

There are several more employment documents that you should have in place, including onboarding and offboarding materials, performance documents, on-duty meal agreements, on-site employee contracts, and arbitration agreements. The importance of being proactive cannot be overstated. With the guidance of a legal professional, you can navigate through the required employment documents and operational practices necessary.

Ensuring guest safety should be a top priority for hotel owners, because failing to do so can lead to significant legal consequences. Hotel owners must implement adequate security measures, maintain functioning fire safety systems, and regularly inspect their property to prevent accidents and injuries. Promptly addressing safety concerns and maintaining detailed records can serve as valuable evidence in case of legal disputes.

Among the most common guest lawsuits in the hospitality industry are those related to bed bugs, and slip and fall injuries. While franchisees typically have quality standards and a complaint resolution process in place, independent hoteliers have the advantage of determining their own training and protocols. Independent hoteliers aren’t obligated to use expensive companies for bed bug services or give refunds to guests with false complaints. Meet with a legal professional to implement a plan to prevent personal injury lawsuits.

Independent hoteliers, you are not alone. But, in today’s litigious society, you must understand and comply with regulatory requirements, employment laws, and safety measures to mitigate your risk of liability. Rely on your legal support system and take the steps necessary to maximize your bottom line.

darshan patelDarshan Patel is the Principal Partner of DPA Attorneys at Law, a firm specializing in hospitality law. As a seasoned hotel owner and developer himself, Darshan established a law firm that approaches legal matters from a business owner’s perspective. Under his leadership, DPA Attorneys has established a reputation of trust, efficiency, and effective defense.


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