Digital Threats Continue to Confront the Hospitality Industry

shutterstock_217014265Cybersecurity and digital threats were a hot topic at ALIS Law, a conference for hotel owners and operators, in Los Angeles last month.  I had a pleasure of moderating a session on “threats in a digital world” with senior executives from national hotel management and ownership groups.  In our session, we discussed what were some of the pressing and most concerning digital threats that kept the hospitality industry up at night.  Here are some highlights and take-aways from the session:

  • Cybersecurity and hacks from foreign and domestic threats remain a top concern. Many hotels have been engaging in surveillance as one method of cyber protection.  It was noted how much the investment in technology to prevent, address, and respond to cybersecurity issues has increased for both owners and operators.  While owners may bear the cost on their profit & loss statement, and management companies are putting in policies, owners are adding property specific monitoring.  It was discussed that one global hotel company, Hyatt Hotels, recently announced a bug bounty program whereby they will be paying ethical hackers to monitor their systems, including mobile applications, for potential risks and where credible risks or threats are found – the hackers will be compensated – which is a novel approach in the hospitality industry.
  • While cybersecurity threats have been a focus, one repeated concern is the threat of harm to a hotel’s reputation due to guests and third parties spreading false information on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. To address these concerns, hotel operators talk with their teams daily about the consequences of false information or a bad review and take steps to remove false reviews if possible.  Others noted that removing a false review from a site like Trip Advisor can be challenging unless the company is able to prove that the review was posted for criminal reasons or demonstratively false.
  • One consequence of a cybersecurity hack beyond the disclosure of guest information is if a hacker was able to secure personal identifiable information of a hotel company’s investors and borrowers. If investors are concerned that a hotel company is not protecting their highly confidential and personal financial information, that would have a significant impact on the reputational harm to the company.
  • Some of the best practices that owner and operators have put into place is an incident response plan to respond to a threat. In doing so, a key question is who you need at the table to decide how to move forward (IT / GC / PR / Owner) and what elements do you need to put into place.  In addition, implementing policies and procedures on the front end is critical.  For example, from an accounting perspective, having controls in place that can protect where the money is going and where it is coming from and ensuring that there are multiple approvals before money is sent out electronically.  Finally, training staff on the policies and procedures so that the right people are getting the right information.  Managers need to judge and reward staff for compliance with the policies because while a company continue to monitor and audit, training is only effective if compliance is monitored.  For example, one company reported conducting more secret shoppers to determine whether someone can drop a flash drive into a front desk computer to tap into the network.

Unfortunately, cybersecurity risks and threats are not going away anytime soon, but with planning and focus on this important issue, hotel owners and operators can get ahead of some of the threats and take control and strong action if a risk materializes.

Conn Maciel Carey Opens Chicago Office with Prominent OSHA and Labor Lawyers Aaron Gelb and Mark Trapp

Washington, D.C.-based OSHA and Labor & Employment law firm Conn Maciel Carey LLP is pleased to announce the launch of a Midwest Office in Chicago, IL and the addition of two prominent Chicago attorneys – Aaron R. Gelb and Mark M. Trapp.

“We are thrilled not only to expand the Firm’s national footprint to the Midwest, but especially to be doing so with such great lawyers as Aaron and Mark,” said Bryan Carey, the firm’s managing partner.  “This move will enable us to better serve our existing national platform of clients, and will strengthen the firm’s specialty focus on Labor & Employment and Workplace Safety Law.  We look forward to bringing Aaron and Mark on board, as they will add depth to all areas of the firm’s practice, including OSHA, litigation and labor counseling on behalf of our management clients.”

Mr. Gelb, former Labor & Employment Shareholder and head of the OSHA Practice at Vedder Price PC, in its Chicago office, represents employers in all aspects of the employer-employee relationship.  Aaron GelbAaron’s practice has a particular emphasis on advising and representing clients in relation to inspections, investigations, and enforcement actions involving federal OSHA and state OSH programs, and managing the full range of litigation against OSHA.

“Aaron and I share the same vision of how we want to practice law and do business, thus entrusting him with the keys to our new Chicago office, and combining our expertise, talent, and resources together made so much sense,” said Eric J. Conn, Chair of the firm’s national OSHA practice“We look forward to partnering with Aaron to build a solid brand for our Midwest practice among our client base and doing what we know best, providing top-notch service and excellent value to clients.”

Aaron also has extensive experience litigating equal employment opportunity matters in federal and state courts having tried a number of cases to verdict and defending employers before the EEOC as well as fair employment agencies across the country.  In the past 5 years alone, Aaron has successfully handled more than 250 discrimination charges.

Mr. Gelb said “I am incredibly excited to join what I believe to be the country’s leading OSHA practice as the experience and expertise of the Conn Maciel team will enable me to enhance the workplace safety legal support I currently provide to my clients in the Midwest and beyond.  I’ve known Eric for years and have great respect for what he and his colleagues have accomplished in the OSH field.  At the same time, Kara’s employment defense group fits perfectly with my practice as we share a common client-focused philosophy and deep experience in many of the same industries.  While leaving Vedder Price after nearly 20 years was not an easy decision, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to partner with two dynamic attorneys that so perfectly complement the dual aspects of my practice.”

Mr. Trapp joins the firm with seventeen years of experience, during which he has represented employers in all types of labor disputes, from union campaigns and collective bargaining to grievances and arbitrations. Mark M. Trapp (3)Mr. Trapp has defended employers before administrative agencies and in litigation brought under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII and other federal anti-discrimination laws.

Mr. Trapp said “I am thrilled to again have the opportunity to work with the top-notch legal professionals at Conn Maciel Carey.” According to Mr. Trapp, the expertise of a boutique firm focused on OSHA and other labor and employment matters “complements my experience handling labor and employment issues. I look forward to helping strengthen the team’s ability to provide exceptional knowledge and insights to labor and employment clients, and expanding the firm’s presence in the Midwest.”

Mr. Trapp is perhaps best known as a leading authority on multi-employer pension withdrawal liability.  His articles on withdrawal liability and other labor and employment issues have been published in respected legal publications.

“I have worked with Mark for over a decade at various law firms, so I am excited that he has joined our boutique practice that focuses on positive client solutions and effective client service.  His unique knowledge of traditional labor issues and multi-employer pension disputes is unparalleled and he has proven to be a creative and out-of-the-box adviser when counseling clients,” Kara M. Maciel, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice reported.

Conn Maciel Carey Welcomes Chicago Partner, Mark Trapp!

Mark M. Trapp (3)

Conn Maciel Carey LLP is pleased to announce that Mark M. Trapp, an attorney with extensive experience defending employers in a broad range of litigation before federal and state courts, the NLRB and other agencies, has joined the firm as a partner in its Labor & Employment Practice Group, in Chicago, Illinois.

 

Mr. Trapp joins the firm with seventeen years of experience, during which he has represented employers in all types of labor disputes, from union campaigns and collective bargaining to grievances and arbitrations. Mr. Trapp has defended employers before administrative agencies and in litigation brought under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII and other federal anti-discrimination laws. 

In addition, Mr. Trapp’s experience with multiemployer pension withdrawal liability has been recognized across the country and his articles on withdrawal liability and other labor and employment issues have been published in respected legal publications.

“I have worked with Mark for over a decade at various law firms, so I am excited that he has joined our boutique practice that focuses on positive client solutions and effective client service.  His unique knowledge of traditional labor issues and multi-employer pension disputes is unparalleled and he has proven to be a creative and out-of-the-box adviser when counseling clients,” Kara M. Maciel, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice reported.  

Mr. Trapp said “I am thrilled to again have the opportunity to work with the top-notch legal professionals at Conn Maciel Carey.” According to Mr. Trapp, the expertise of a boutique firm focused on OSHA and other labor and employment matters “complements my experience handling labor and employment issues and provides a solid platform for my withdrawal liability practice. I look forward to helping strengthen the team’s ability to provide exceptional knowledge and insights to labor and employment clients, and expanding the firm’s presence in the Midwest.” 

Welcome to the firm, Mark!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Practices for Handling Trade Secret, Restrictive Covenant, and Choice of Law Issues in Employment Agreements [Webinar Recording]

On November 15, 2017, Andrew J. Sommer and Daniel C. Deacon of Conn Maciel Carey’s national Labor and Employment and OSHA – Workplace Safety Practices presented a webinar regarding Best Practices for Handling Trade Secret, Restrictive Covenant, and Choice of Law Issues in Employment Agreements.

The webinar tackled a number of different subjects associated with these topics and reviews a number of best practices when dealing with trade secret, non-compete, and choice of law issues.  The meaning of “trade secret” is essential in properly classifying and protecting this type of information, and this webinar discusses how different courts interpret the meaning of trade secret and what types of information are typically considered a protected trade secret.  In addition, the webinar addresses the numerous factors to consider when drafting a restrictive covenant for employees during the hiring process, how to protect a business when hiring a prospective employee under a restrictive covenant with a former employer, and steps to take to protect your business when you terminate an employee with a restrictive covenant.  Furthermore, this webinar examines the nuances of choice of law issues and how conflicts of law rules in different jurisdictions may affect the validity of a restrictive covenant or other aspects of an employment agreement.  It is critical that employers carefully draft employment agreements in consideration of all of these factors to ensure that its trade secrets are protected and the policies maintained in its employment agreement are enforced.

Here is a link to a recording of the webinar.

This webinar concludes Conn Maciel Carey’s 2017 Employment Webinar Series.  If you missed any of our prior webinars or would like a refresher on any of our prior topics, you can visit Conn Maciel Carey’s Webinar Recordings.

We look forward to presenting on a number of new and interesting topics in 2018 when we commence our 2018 Employment Webinar Series after the New Year.  We hope you will join us!

 

Restrictive Covenants Enforceability from a Global Perspective 

shutterstock_243668662Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with my fellow IR Global members to discuss the use and enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment contracts, and how different countries across the Globe view such covenants.

Every company has information, customer goodwill, and other valuable assets that are considered both integral and invaluable to its success. Limiting the use of this information by employees and protecting goodwill after the term of their employment contract can be vital to the protection of a market position. An accepted method of providing this protection is to include restrictive covenants in employment contracts, which are designed to prevent certain information being used by competitors, while providing for damages should those agreements be breached.

 For companies with operations in multiple locations, understanding this is of critical importance. It is also important to acknowledge that restrictive covenants will only be enforceable if they are deemed to be reasonable in terms of their scope and the fairness of the restrictions they place upon an employee.

In this feature article, we discuss valuable insight into how these protections are applied across a range of jurisdictions, and assess the enforceability of contracts containing restrictive covenants, options in the event of a breach of covenant and best practices to avoid any potential problems before they occur.

Conn Maciel Carey LLP is a proud member of IR Global in the Employment Law Group. IR Global is a multi-disciplinary professional services network that provides advice to companies and individuals across 155+ jurisdictions. Their Virtual Series publications bring together a number of their network’s members to discuss a different practice area-related topic. The participants share their expertise and offer a unique perspective from the jurisdiction they operate in.

HR Issues for Start-Ups and Small Businesses

On Wednesday, February 15, 2017, Kara Maciel, Chair of the Labor & Employment Practice at Conn Maciel Carey, will be presenting a free webinar on issues facing small business.

While large companies typically have human resources departments or in-house counsel to advise on myriad and complex employment laws, start-ups and small businesses are often operating in the dark regarding these key issues.  However, as these companies grow and begin to hire more employees, compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws are paramount for survival.

This webinar will provide an overview of the most important employment laws, policies and practices that are of particular concern for small businesses and start-ups so that they can comply with proper pay practices and wage and hour law, become aware of applicable anti-discrimination laws, and learn proper procedures for hiring and firing, including offer letters, employment agreements and separation agreements.

The webinar begins at 1:00 pm ET, and is sponsored by Smith College.  You can register for the webinar here.  If you are unable to attend the February webinar, Conn Maciel Carey will present another opportunity on April 19, 2017 as part of its 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series, and you can register here.

 

Announcing our 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series

5b0ac5ef-4c7d-4ae7-9d4a-2a1cffe3a587During the last few years, employers have become accustomed to increased scrutiny and enforcement from various federal agencies, including the Department of Labor, Department of Justice and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. While it is anyone’s guess as to how proactive these agencies will be during the Trump administration, the fact remains that various complex local, state, and federal laws currently are in place designed to protect employees under a wide variety of circumstances. With employers in all industries scrambling to prepare for a changing workplace in the coming months/years, it is as important as ever to be prepared for what’s ahead from an employment law perspective.

Conn Maciel Carey’s 2017 Labor & Employment Webinar Series, hosted by the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, is designed to give you the practical solutions to ensure you are running your business in a way that does not run afoul of the most important labor and employment laws facing our workforce today.

Click here for the full schedule and program descriptions. To register for individual webinars, click on the program titles below.

Register me for the entire
2017 Labor & Employment Webinar series

March 22nd
The DOL’s Major 2016 Regulatory Initiatives and how (and/or whether) those will be implemented in the coming year

April 19th
Key Employment Law Issues for Start-ups and other Small Business, including relevant California laws

May 24th
Recurring Marijuana Issues in the Workplace

June 8th
The Changing Landscape of Anti-Discrimination Laws and Workplace Policies in Light of the NLRB

July 11th
Multi- and Joint-Employers, Contractors and Temps

September 19th
The Impact of Workplace Violence as it relates to Employment Laws and OSHA

October 17th
Addressing Employee Complaints: Whistleblower/Retaliation Claims and OSHA Notices of Alleged Hazards

November 15th
Employment Agreements,
Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets