Food & Beverage Updates

Food & Beverage Updates

Liquor in the Workplace: What Businesses Need to Know
By Greg Duff

Alcohol has been making the headlines over the past several weeks in Washington as the state prepares for Initiative 1183 to take effect. And while the privatization of liquor sales remains a popular topic, another alcohol-related headline deserves some notice from business owners. The Seattle Times recently described a questionable situation caught by KOMO News cameras: beer in the temporary offices of Kiewit, the construction firm responsible for some of the work being done on Highway 520. Partially in response to the pending investigation by the Department of Labor and Industry, clients and other readers have been asking whether a business can have alcohol in the workplace without running afoul of liquor regulations.

As a general rule, a business may not serve liquor to its employees or the public without a permit or license. Two options are, however, available to businesses wishing to serve alcohol on a limited basis. A banquet permit covers a single event where liquor is being provided without charge to private invitees, and is practical for businesses that have very infrequent occasions to serve alcohol. Banquet permits cost $10, and may be purchased online here. For businesses that wish to serve alcohol on a more frequent basis, a Class 4 permit is appropriate. Class 4 permits cost $500 for one year, and liquor must be served in specified hospitality or dining rooms for not more than 24 hours in a given week. Kiewit, and other businesses, are likely violating these requirements even with a Class 4 permit if alcohol is freely available to employees without area or time restrictions. Applications for Class 4 permits can be found here.

Businesses that do not comply with permit and license requirements can be subject to warnings, fines, and administrative violation notices. If you have questions about your business and applicable alcohol regulations, please email Greg Duff, founder of the Garvey Shubert Barer Law Firm Hospitality, Travel and Tourism Group. Visit Greg’s blog:

Lawsuit Serves Up Lessons For Restaurateurs – Employee Defection And Trade Secrets At Issue
By Risa B. Boerner, Brent A. Cossrow
A decision issued this summer by a federal district court in New York provides important lessons for professionals in the food services and restaurant industry regarding employee defection and trade secrets issues. Read full hospitality update from Fisher & Phillips »

OSHA Compliance For Restaurants
By Howard A. Mavity
Restaurants and their trade associations are justifiably proud of their food safety efforts as shown by the July 27, 2011 announcement by the National Restaurant Association celebrating over one million classes of restaurant industry training. But inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) continue to turn up significant shortcomings in restaurant OSHA compliance – and these issues are not limited to the large institutional setting. Read full hospitality update from Fisher & Phillips »

The Future of Tip Credit – And The Businesses That Depend Upon It
By Karen L. Luchka, J. Hagood Tighe
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to decide what amounts to the future of tip credit for many businesses – particularly in the hospitality industry. In short, the issue is whether an employer can continue to pay tip credit employees on a tip credit basis if they spend more than 20% of their work time on duties that did not produce tips. Read full hospitality update from Fisher & Phillips »

“Kitchen Tryouts Start Today” . . . Or Maybe Not
By John E. Thompson
Hospitality employers sometimes wonder whether it’s possible for individuals to participate in kitchen activities as unpaid interns or on a tryout basis, typically as chefs or cooks. Among the many questions this raises is whether such people would be “employees” who are subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s requirements. Read full hospitality update from Fisher & Phillips

SEIU Paints A Bull’s Eye On Fast Food Industry
By Mark S. Ross
It’s common for fast food workers in Canada, Germany, France and Australia to be represented by a union. But in America less than 2% of fast food workers are unionized – and most of them work in stores located on college campuses, in hospitals or in government buildings where labor unions are commonplace. Indeed, until very recently, the conventional wisdom among union leadership was that employees working in freestanding fast food restaurants were simply too short-sighted, too transient, or too timid, to be viable targets for union organizing. Accordingly, even though it promises the possibility of hundreds of thousands of new union members, the fast food industry has gone largely ignored by unions. All of that may soon change. Read full hospitality update from Fisher & Phillips