Monthly Archives July 2014

Latest News on ACA


It was a busy week for news regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Courts issued conflicting rulings on ACA subsidies, the IRS raised the threshold for “affordable coverage” under the employer mandate, and the IRS released drafts of forms related to the new employer reporting requirements for 2015.


Conflicting Court Rulings on ACA Subsidies

On July 22, two different federal appeals courts ruled on whether subsidies are available through all ACA insurance exchanges or only through state-run exchanges. The two rulings are mirror opposites so further appeals are expected. In the meantime, subsidies continue to be available in all states.

Exchange subsidies are an important issue for large employers due to the ACA’s “play or pay” provision (employer mandate)...

Read More

State Minimum Wage Increases For 2014-2015

By Susan Prince and WAKEUP CALL

Employers get ready! Minimum wage increases will affect numerous states across the country during the remainder of 2014 and into 2015. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. But the FLSA does not supersede any state or local laws that are more favorable to employees. Therefore, if a state has a minimum wage that is higher than the federal minimum, employers subject to the state minimum wage law are obligated to pay the higher rate to employees working in that state.

minimum wage(1)

The map below shows the states that are increasing their minimum wages over the next 12 months, including the new rate and amount of the increase...

Read More

Don’t Be Like Other Employers: Pay Your Interns

By Michael Thomas and WAKEUP CALL

The Donald Sterling saga continues to teach employers—by way of bad example—important lessons for managing employees. While Sterling’s racist comments and desperate attempts to retain ownership of the L.A. Clippers continue to grab headlines, employers who hire unpaid interns may be facing a lawsuit similar to a less publicized lawsuit filed yesterday against the beleaguered owner (at least for now) and the L.A. Clippers.


Two days ago, a former intern for the Los Angeles Clippers filed a proposed wage-and-hour class action in federal court against Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers alleging that Sterling and the Clippers misclassified him and others as unpaid interns in an effort to illegally reduce labor costs...

Read More

5 Fundamentals Every Hotel Fitness Amenity Must Include

From Bryan Green and WAKEUP CALL

For many operators in the hospitality industry, it makes sense that a constant focus on the property’s fitness amenity would be unlikely given the balance of priorities. However, as we all know, guest expectations as they relate to an offering in fitness continue to grow each and every year. Because it is clear that the fitness center is a frequent part of the guest experience for many, it’s critical to gain a solid understanding of the fundamentals every property must attend to, regardless of the size or stature of the space.

hotel fitness

Equipment balance, entertainment, environment, cleanliness, and safety are the essential considerations for this high demand offering...

Read More

4 Tips for Surviving an Active Shooter

By Hospitality Lawyer and WAKEUP CALL

You’re working at your job or out in public, doing what you normally do and not expecting anything particularly exciting to happen. Then you hear a series of loud, muffled pops, not too close, but not very far away. Then you hear screams, faint and distant but getting louder. Then you hear another pop, only this time it’s more like a bang and much closer, and in one adrenaline-pounding moment, you realize you’re hearing gunshots.


This is how most people initially experience an active shooter situation; that is, if you’re lucky enough to have some distance between you and the shooter(s) when the situation erupts.

No matter where you are when someone is trying to kill you with a gun, you must suppress a powerful natural urge to panic and instea...

Read More

More Hotels Offer Loyalty Points for Posting Photos on Social Media

By Nick Vivion and WAKEUP CALL

Hotels are eager to garner organic social media attention from guests, as this is one of the most valid means of social proof across networks. Rather than pay for access, these social shares are direct influencers of guests’ friends, family and contacts.

Social Media- Find Your Sweet Spot To Posting Frequency

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants is getting in on the social sharing game by offering points to guests who share photos. To incentivize this sort of organic sharing, the brand is offering points via a new program called Kimpton Karma Rewards.

This program replaces the previous “InTouch” setup, and will include the social sharing benefits. The tiers are laid out here, with the first tier offering free WiFi – and that’s simply for signing up to the program.

In addition to the social sharing rewards, ...

Read More

Secret Service Warns Of Data Theft Risk When Using Hotel Computers

By Zachary Reis and WAKEUP CALL

Security expert Brian Krebs has shared a Secret Service bulletin directed toward the hotel industry where Fed’s warn hotel managers that public computers in their establishments are, by and large, vulnerable to simple attacks that can compromise some of their patrons’ most sensitive details.


The notice was prompted after recent arrests involving data theft at several major hotel business centers around Dallas, TX.

Krebs said the notice warned that in one instance crooks are using stolen credit card data to register as hotel guests, used business center computers to get access to Gmail accounts, and installed keylogging software...

Read More

Largest U.S. Hotel Companies Work to Prevent Human Trafficking

By Harry Stevens and WAKEUP CALL

human trafficking

America’s largest hospitality companies are training their employees to spot cases of human trafficking at hotels.

Congress passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, a law that had expired in 2011 which seeks to prevent human trafficking in the United States. The day before the House vote, Governor Matt Mead signed the first anti-trafficking law in Wyoming, making his state the 50th and final U.S. state to illegalize the trafficking of individuals for commercial sex or forced labor.

Americans tend to link human trafficking with other “third world problems” like genocide and famine, but in 2011 there were 4,239 convictions in human trafficking cases across the country...

Read More

Same-Sex Marriage and the FMLA: What Employers Need to Know

By Brooks & Smith and WAKEUP CALL

Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor officially published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the definition of “spouse” in the Family and Medical Leave Act. The proposed changes would broaden the definition of “spouse” to include most same-sex married couples.


The proposed changes are intended to reflect (and expand upon) last year’s Supreme Court decision in United States v. Windsor. That decision overruled Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined “marriage” for purposes of federal law as being between one man and one woman.

Consistent with Section 3 of the DOMA, the DOL has traditionally defined “marriage” for FMLA purposes in this same way (that is, as male-female)...

Read More

Hotel Rooms Go Keyless With New Smartphone Apps

By Nancy Trejos and WAKEUP CALL

The hotel room key card may become as obsolete as the brass room key it replaced. Door lock vendors have developed the technology to let smartphones function as keys, and the hotel industry is starting to experiment with it.


The keys are activated through smartphone apps. When guests check in through the app, the hotel sends them their room numbers and enables the phones to act as virtual keys. Sensors in the door can detect and verify the phone through technology such as Bluetooth LE.

“We’re eliminating keys,” Phil Dumas, president of UniKey, which is partnering with Miwa Lock to offer keyless entry, said at this week’s HITEC hospitality technology conference. “You can completely bypass the front desk.”

Starwood Hotels and Resorts is testing out virtual ke...

Read More