The hospitality industry encompasses arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services. Industry laws relate to guests and employees, and include legislation on employee health and safety, labor laws, environmental protection, hygiene, alcohol licensing regulations, negligence, privacy and contracts. It is important for industry entrepreneurs and managers to know these laws to promote employee welfare, ensure adequate service to guests, manage business exposure to risk, and maintain complete compliance with state and federal laws.

Employee Welfare

Service providers ought to be well-versed with all labor laws, given the unique employment attributes in the hospitality industry. Unique challenges exist due to the nature of the work and the variety of employees that exist in the industry. There are permanent and seasonal workers regulated differently under the law. The hospitality industry also takes on underage workers who work part-time and have specific protections under the law. Considering that the hospitality industry tends to operate 24 hours a day, throughout the year, entrepreneurs and managers have to guard against violation of wage and overtime laws, which guard against overworking and underpaying employees. It is also important to know about the occupational health and safety laws that protect employees at work.

Client Service

Operators in the industry are expected to ensure clients' welfare and are legally liable when they fail to meet it adequately. Client services range from food preparation and service; ensuring general hygienic conditions, and offering adequate security to prevent criminal activity, which includes assuring the safety of guests and protecting their privacy and confidentiality. Operators need to know their legal duties and refrain from placing clients at risk of injury, illness, embarrassment or loss due to ignorance or negligence.

Risk Exposure

Because offering hospitality spans a wide array of services, it is important to know all the laws that apply to manage the industry's exposure to risk. Hospitality industry service providers face the risk of lawsuits based on breach of contract arising out of relationships with suppliers and guests, tortious claims such as when a guest gets injured due to negligence, and bankruptcy when the business is not making enough to pay the bills. The industry is also vulnerable to risks arising out of gambling and liquor licensing laws that regulate when and where alcohol can be served and the legal drinking age, as businesses can be held liable even when it is their guests who breach the law. Therefore, industry entrepreneurs and managers need awareness of laws to avoid exposure to risk that can lead to disruption or even closure of the business.

State and federal laws prescribe standards for every industry, and in the hospitality realm, there are a number of relevant laws that service providers must follow. Laws on guest-tenant relationships, maintenance of public health through the creation of smoke-free zones and food hygiene standards apply directly to the industry. Legislation on consumer safeguards, such as protection from misrepresentation and false advertising, as well as disability discrimination due to lack of access, also affect the industry. Service providers require comprehensive knowledge of all applicable laws to effectively manage all the legal issues that arise in the course of operating their business.