Partner Cliff Risman, co-chair of Foley Gardere’s Hospitality & Leisure Team, was quoted in the Hotel Management
article, “What Hotels Need to Know about Their Legal Obligations
Risman said that knowing local laws can help hoteliers prevent unpleasant situations even before a guest checks in. While hotels are public accommodations and required to accept any guest if rooms are available, Risman said that there are important exceptions. “However, there are what you would expect in terms of exceptions to that obligation,” he said, noting that hotels generally can refuse service to guests who are drunk and disorderly, have a contagious disease or are trying to bring animals into properties that do not accept pets.
Being knowledgeable can also help hotel staff deal more appropriately with uncomfortable situations, stave off negative publicity and even lawsuits. Avoiding legal disputes often comes down to several basic questions hotel employees should ask themselves, said Risman: “Did you warn [the offending party]? Did you try and resolve it? Did you act reasonably? Did you act with care?” When in doubt, he added, the team member should check in with management or counsel. “The instruction to staff should always be to use common sense, be reasonable and consult with counsel if needed (if it's during the appropriate hours),” he said.
Perhaps most importantly, Risman said, a hotel’s rules and regulations should be reasonable and applied both fairly and uniformly to all guests.