Understanding Hospitality Law: Case Study

Instructor: Jessica Mercado

I completed my BA in Criminal Justice in 2015. Currently working on my MS in Homeland Security Management.

This lesson will cover the case of Antoninetti v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Explanations of how this case is related to hospitality will also be covered.

A Bad Experience

A recent headline in the news has been the United Airlines debacle. A paying passenger was violently removed from the aircraft after refusing to give up his seat. As a customer of United Airlines, he expected to be treated with respect. He was dragged from the aircraft in front of everyone and United has been widely ridiculed for how they handled the situation. The passenger has since filed a lawsuit against United for compensation for damages done to him.

Do you think that this would fall under the jurisdiction of hospitality law?

Explanation of Hospitality Law

Hospitality laws are used in food, travel, and lodging services. Hospitality covers a wide range of areas, rather than one specific area. It is more based on what the plaintiff is filing suit for, than a certain law. Some examples of areas where hospitality law is utilized are:

  • restaurants
  • hotels
  • bars
  • spas
  • country clubs
  • cruise ships
  • conventions
  • airlines

Hospitality law is important to the many food, travel, and lodging industries because it ensures that these industries comply with: employment regulations, employee/customer/food safety, licenses for events, customer treatment/accommodations, and industry regulations. United Airlines did not follow guidelines with the treatment of the passenger who was removed from the flight. Customer treatment and accommodation should have been their top priority. There are other areas that hospitality law can cover, and the ones mentioned are the most common.

Background of Antoninetti v. Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.

The plaintiff, Antoninetti, filed a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), against Chipotle Mexican Grill. The plaintiff stated that Chipotle violated ADA because their food prep area had a counter-top that was too high for someone in a wheelchair to be able to see over. After the lawsuit, in 2007, Chipotle created a ''customer's with disability policy'' in order to provide more accommodations for those with disability.

The plaintiff did not receive any compensation for the damages he claimed, in a bench trial, but received relief for attorney damages. The plaintiff appealed this decision, and was still denied compensation because he did not have proof of irreplaceable damage, due to Chipotle creating a disability policy. The plaintiff had not returned to Chipotle since before the policy was created, so he had not seen the accommodations that had been made.

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