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Hotels, like other business entities, are subject
to a large and continually changing body of
law. However, because lodging facilities are
complicated systems, the laws affecting them
are more numerous and complex than those
affecting most other types of businesses. Because
not complying with laws can result in
fines, lawsuits, and even imprisonment, it is
important that managers be familiar with the
many legal dangers to which hotels are subject.
This does not mean they have to be
lawyers, but managers should have enough legal
knowledge to be aware of strategies that
minimize the property’s exposure to potential
litigation and to train employees to minimize
risks in their departments.
This article is a brief introduction to the
legal environment in which hotels operate.
We begin with a discussion of where our laws
come from and how they are classified. This
should give you a fundamental understanding
of the legal content.Then we look at the laws
and regulations that are specific to typical hotel
departments. Notice the significant number
of detailed references and footnotes.
These are included to provide further detail
for specific discussion points and to provide a
source for reference.
The following article briefly introduces you
to the law—where it comes from and how it is
classified.This will help you when we turn our
attention to the specifics of the law and how it
applies to the lodging industry.
 Sources of Law
Law comes from four sources: (1) judge-made
common law (also called case law and stare
decisis); (2) the Constitution; (3) legislative
statutes and ordinances; and (4) administrative
agencies. Each of these is discussed
Common law originated in England and,
although decisions issued by courts in the
United States have added considerably to this
body of law, some decisions made several
hundreds of years ago still influence presentday
judicial decisions.The primary purpose of
common law is to provide stability and predictability
as judges rule on cases. Judges use
past decisions as a precedent for deciding current
cases. This decision becomes binding for
lower courts in that jurisdiction and can even
be used as persuasive authority for courts in
other jurisdictions faced with cases having a
similar pattern of facts.

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