CIHLER Members Share Legal Expertise at Georgetown Conference

Members of the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations contributed their time and knowledge to the fourth annual Hotel and Lodging Legal Summit at Georgetown University, one of the foremost conferences on U.S. hospitality law.

Several members of the CIHLER advisory board and associates of CIHLER member firms, as well as Director David Sherwyn, the John and Melissa Ceriale Professor of Hospitality Human Resources, presented their opinions in panel discussions on current critical issues. Sherwyn spoke on a panel that addressed a recent National Labor Relations Board ruling, in which the NLRB expanded the reach of “joint employment,” which could greatly affect the hospitality industry’s franchising structures. Also on the panel were Zachary D. Fasman, of Proskauer Rose LLP, a CIHLER member firm, and advisory board member Laura E. FitzRandolph, who is executive vice president & chief human resources officer, of Interstate Hotels & Resorts, Inc.

The panel that included Fasman, FitzRandolph, and Sherwyn analyzed the outcomes for a case where the NLRB ruled specifically that Browning Ferris Industries would be considered a joint employer of workers supplied by Leadpoint, a staffing services firm. By implication, franchise systems (or any firm that uses outsourced workers) may be considered joint employers of local franchisees’ workers. In that context, McDonald’s is currently in litigation with the NLRB over this issue. Issues addressed by Sherwyn and fellow panel members included whether joint employment liability is an appropriate approach to contemporary workplaces, what companies can do to minimize joint employment liability, and whether hotel owners and independent contractors can be considered joint employers.

Another important topic, new union organizing rules, was the topic of a panel chaired by Paul Wagner, an adjunct assistant professor at the School of Hotel Administration and a partner in Stokes Wagner Hunt Maretz & Terrell. This panel included three CIHLER advisory board members: Paul Ades, senior vice president, labor relations & operations, Hilton Worldwide, Inc.; Harold Morgan, senior vice president, human resources, White Lodging Services Corporation; and Celeste R. Yeager, of Littler Mendelson P.C. Among other issues, the panel considered the new ways that unions support organization efforts and explore options for owners and operations facing union issues.