From the Director

David Sherwyn, director of CIHLER

As the semester in Ithaca winds down, CIHLER, like the Ithaca winter, continues to make its presence felt.

First, we are now officially a center and have a new name: the Cornell Center for Innovative Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations (CIHLER). Being a center means that Cornell’s ILR School is now an official and equal partner!

CIHLER’s spring began with an April 26 panel in Washington, D.C., where we were discussing sexual harassment in the hospitality industry—whether there has been an uptick in cases and how employers are preventing, investigating, and litigating harassment. We also discussed the tax codes’ provision that prevents employers from deducting, as business expenses, legal fees and settlements if there is a non-disclosure agreement, and the proposals to prevent harassment cases from being part of arbitration agreements. The panel agreed that, while well-meaning, these legal changes will have a negative effect on employees and will reduce complaints.

On May 11, CIHLER and the Center for Real Estate and Finance (CREF) hosted the 2nd Owners and Operators Roundtable, presenting two focused forums for discussion to engage both owners and operators. The first session, titled “Hotel Investment,” explored topical issues in asset management, capital market trends, and the impact of the new economy on hotel ownership. The second session, titled “Labor Issues Facing the Hospitality Industry,” brought together owners and operators to discuss the cutting-edge labor issues that affect hotel operators who manage the workforce and owners who pay the costs including that of litigation.

Specifically, we covered union/management relations, preventing and litigating sexual harassment and wage and hour claims, and alternative dispute resolution.

As the spring turns to summer, we’ve hosted our 5th annual Chicago Roundtable on May 21 and will also be hosting roundtables in San Francisco June 25 and Los Angeles June 29. As summer turns to fall, we will be hosting our first Florida Roundtable on October 5 and our 17th annual Labor and Employment Law Roundtable on October 15. As for conferences, CIHLER will be represented at NYU’s 71st annual Conference on Labor on June 8, The Lodging Conference September 24-27 and Georgetown Law’s Hotel and Lodging Legal Summit October 25-26.

From a substantive standpoint, sexual harassment is, of course, a huge topic for CIHLER, and we have a number of research projects in the works. In addition, we are waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on class-action waivers in employment agreements, and there are union contract negotiations going on all over the country.

On the HR side of the center, the evolution of work is a topic that has scholars and business leaders trying to predict the future, and CIHLER is a part of this discussion. From March 25 to 27, we will be leading the 12th annual HR in Hospitality Conference at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. LRP Publications ran this conference with CIHLER for the last 11 years. LRP has graciously given the conference to CIHLER, and now we are busy planning the content and every other aspect of the event. We hope to see many of you in Vegas next March.

If you interested in joining CIHLER or getting involved, please contact Erica Heim or me.