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HR in Hospitality™ Conference Provides Actionable
‘Food For Thought’ for Restaurateurs

Produced in association with Human Resource Executive® magazine, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration
and Cornell University ILR School, ‘HR in Restaurants’ sessions provide tasteful tips for motivating, training and retaining
employees. Wynn Las Vegas, March 16 – 19, 2008; Wynn Las Vegas, March 16 - 19, 2008

HORSHAM, PA. — OCTOBER 23, 2007 — As owners, managers and analysts cook up the recipe for today’s successful restaurants – especially with a growing list of hard-to-swallow wage, hour and meal-plan lawsuits on the menu – they often look to human resource metrics. The 2nd Annual HR in Hospitality™ Conference (, to be held March 16 – 19, 2008 at Wynn Las Vegas, is offering a dedicated “HR in Restaurants” track that identifies the emerging HR trends that drive improved operational performance for today’s most successful restaurants.  

The event is produced by Human Resource Executive® Conferences and developed and co-sponsored by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and the Cornell ILR School. HR in Hospitality™ also is endorsed by the American Hotel & Lodging Association. 

The three day conference tackles tough issues for restaurant, foodservice and hotel professionals in HR management, with customized tracks for each of the three segments. Six thought-provoking and highly engaging educational sessions dedicated to “HR in Restaurants” include: 

  • “People Report’s™ Workforce 2007: Best People Practices in the Restaurant Industry”
  • “Want Fries With That Wage & Hour Lawsuit?“
  • “Avoiding the Heartburn of Class Action: How to Create an Effective Meal Break Plan“
  • “Filling the Multi-Unit Management Pipeline at P.F. Chang’s“
  • “Restaurants That Rock: Onboarding and Training at Hard Rock International”
  • “Taking a Bite Out of Restaurant Employee Turnover”
“Unemployment has dropped over the past five years, creating a void in qualified workers while the restaurant and foodservice industries continue to grow,” said Kacy Oden, director of membership relations for People Report™, which provides human capital insight and best practices studies. “Simply put, we are facing a labor shortage.  Finding and keeping great people will get even harder than it is today. This shortage will reshape the way our industry does business. If we don’t change the way we view our people – caring for more than just the bottom line – we won’t have the bench strength to get by.”  

Oden will kick off the “HR in Restaurants” track with a session titled “People Report’s™ Workforce 2007: Best People Practices in the Restaurant Industry,” in which she will dig deep into national research conducted in 2007 by People Report™, the foremost provider of HR metrics and benchmarks in the restaurant industry. During this session, Oden will share valuable lessons learned during the past five years from successful restaurant chains.

“The HR in Hospitality™ Conference is a much-needed event that has taken an innovative approach in bringing together all sectors of hospitality to talk about what really drives our industry success: people,” Oden said. “HR professionals and operators who want to know the real facts and figures about our workforce and the solutions leading companies are already implementing should plan to attend this conference.

“We as an industry turn people over at a rate that almost outpaces how quickly we recruit them,” she added. “Restaurateurs must create an employment brand that makes people want to work for them and stay working for them. This event will show the way.”

In “Filling the Multi-Unit Management Pipeline at P.F. Chang’s,“ Janet Coen, director of leadership development and succession for P.F. Chang’s, will share how this bistro has remained a star in the tough casual dining sector for many years. Coen will discuss how the restaurant has been able to identify and develop pivotal talent that drives its success. Likewise, in “Restaurants That Rock: Onboarding and Training at Hard Rock International,” Jim Knight, senior director of training and development, The School of Hard Rocks, Hard Rock International, Orlando, Fla., will share the Hard Rock’s core message: “Love all, Serve all.” Often imitated, never duplicated, Hard Rock has managed to thrive where others have failed, and in this session attendees will find out how. 

Are you ‘served’?

Every week, millions of viewers tune into restaurant-based reality shows, such as FOX network’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” But back in the real world, an increasing number of restaurateurs are starring in a courtroom drama they would like to see canceled.
In the session titled “Want Fries With That Wage and Hour Lawsuit?”, Carolyn Richmond, partner and national co-chair, Hospitality Practice Group, for Fox Rothschild LLP in New York, will examine the reasons behind the unprecedented number of employee-generated lawsuits alleging tip pool, uniform allowance and overtime violations.

“Today restaurant owners are being sued in record proportion under federal and state wage and hour laws,” Richmond said. “This is a serious problem, from the largest international operators to mom and pops. However, owners need to find viable solutions that work within the legal framework.. This session is designed to help participants better understand the ins and outs of operating within the parameters of the law, as well as how to prevent a lawsuit from even being filed.” 

Richmond said the restaurant industry is a large target for these types of lawsuits because it is one of the nation's largest private employers – and the industry obviously is not being outsourced overseas. 

“The newspapers are filled with stories almost on a daily basis about the class and collective actions being filed against restaurant owners and other foodservice operators,” she said. “These ‘drive-by’ lawsuits take no prisoners and can reach back anywhere from two to six years, depending on the state and statute of limitations in place. In this session we will discuss potential back pay awards, attorney’s fees, statutory damages and more. These are often bet-the-farm cases for operators because the financial implications are so high and the amount of resources the defense entails is substantial.”

David Morrison, who has a national employment law and litigation practice as a principal in Goldberg Kohn’s Hospitality Industry Group in Chicago, will continue the lawsuit discussion in a session titled “Avoiding the Heartburn of Class Action: How to Create an Effective Meal Break Plan.” Morrison says laws governing rest and meal breaks have been on the books for decades, but typically are ignored. 

“Meal break laws also have become the basis for a fast-growing wave of class action litigation,” Morrison said. “The everyday rush of restaurant operations makes it very likely that employees can skip over lunch. In the hands of a plaintiff's lawyer (whose attorney’s fees are paid for by the defendant if there is merit to a meal break claim), what seems like an understandable casualty of a busy workplace will simply look like an opportunity to cash in.  Settlements and verdicts of seven to nine figures are common. And with the state of California ruling that the additional one hour of pay owed to employees who were not given a meal or rest break was a ‘wage’ not a ‘penalty,’ the statute of limitations on such violations – and the potential for damages – just tripled.

“Through this presentation, I will identify what is happening on a national scale in terms of the fastest growing class action litigation affecting the industry, and show what restaurateurs can do to attempt to prevent such a devastating piece of litigation from being brought against them,” he said.

For registration details, including early-bird registration and the conference’s full agenda, visit For exhibitor and sponsorship information, visit or contact Fred Kurst, Trade Show Manager for Southeast, Southwest, West and Europe, at (703) 393-8304; or Nancy Sommar, Trade Show Manager for Northeast, Midwest and Canada, at (215) 784-0910, ext. 623. 

About HR in Hospitality™

HR in Hospitality™ is developed and produced by Human Resource Executive® Conferences, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and Cornell University ILR School. HR in Hospitality™ is the premier event specifically for professionals in the hospitality industry who handle employment law, human resource management and labor relations.

In addition to the conference, the HR in Hospitality™ Expo Hall is open for two days and is designed to further assist attendees through exposure to products and services related to benefits, HRO, legal, payroll, screening and assessment, training, and recruiting.

About HRE® Conferences

Thousands of HR professionals network, research workforce solutions and make buying decisions at the three annual Human Resource Executive® events: NY HR Week™, April 15-17, 2008; HR in Hospitality™, March 16-19, 2008; and the HR Technology® Conference & Exposition, October 15-17, 2008  More information about these conferences can be accessed at

Note to editors: HR in Hospitality™ is produced by HRE® Conferences, a division of LRP Conferences, LLC. Trademarks and registered trademarks referenced herein remain the property of their respective owners. A limited number of complimentary press passes are available for HR in Hospitality™. To request a press pass, please contact PRPRO.


Barb Worcester
Tel: (440) 930-5770


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