The restaurant business is not for the faint of heart. It is a tough industry. You and your employees work long hours, often 7 days a week, which puts a strain on families. You have menus to plan, staffing issues that arise, dealing with your food service providers, making sure the taxes are paid, and on and on. It is exhausting work. That’s why restaurant owners don’t usually like to think about the potential for an employee to file a lawsuit against you and your business. The sharp reality is that you have to focus on your risks in order for your doors to stay open for your customers. You want to build your business, and that’s why the attorneys at Hackler Flynn & Associates want to help you properly manage that risk.
Across the country, employment litigation is booming, and California is certainly no exception. The average verdict in an employment lawsuit is more than $600,000, and it can skyrocket from there. You could find yourself defending against allegations of discrimination, workplace harassment, violations of wage and hour laws, customer slip-and-falls, and employees hurt while on the job. The restaurant industry is a bit unique that added to those normal issues are sharp knives, open flames, large platters filled with steaming food hurriedly carried through the midst of a high-pressure, extremely busy workplace.
Another thing that sets the restaurant industry apart is its vulnerability to discrimination and harassment litigation. Restaurants are known for their high employee turnover, and the new managers and employees may not know your company policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment. Also, the employees in restaurants are typically young: for many, this may be their first job, and they are completely unaware or insensitive of the rules and regulations that need to be followed. Because the owner cannot oversee every interaction and conversation between manager and employee, it can be difficult for owners to manage their risk.
Restaurant owners can also be susceptible to claims of violation of wage and hour laws. Most restaurant employees are nonexempt workers, and therefore subject to these laws. A common situation is a claim for miscalculation of wages or overtime. Perhaps an employee claims he/she has been misclassified as an exempt worker, and is denied overtime payment to which they feel entitled. These types of claims can become class action claims, which mean huge distractions and expense. They can shutter the doors of your establishment if you do not take proactive steps to get solid legal counsel before it happens.
We mentioned discrimination lawsuits: the restaurant industry has been hit hard by customers who claim they were discriminated against because they were not served at all, or served a lesser product because of their minority status. These issues have the tendency to garner media attention, and can destroy your restaurant’s brand in 24 hours.
At the end of the day, you need to be proactive and protect your business. We understand that whether you own a single restaurant, or many, you need effective solutions to help you run your business smoothly. The legal team at Hackler Flynn & Associates can keep you up-to-date on the constantly changing rules and regulations in the food industry. We focus on our clients’ best interests, so you can concentrate on that next menu! Contact us to let us know how to assist you!
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