I just had the pleasure of attending the Cornell HR in Hospitality Conference in Las Vegas, with my colleagues Carolyn Richmond, Alka Bahal, and Rachel Silverstein. I participated in the Executive Summit and shared ideas with some of the most progressive minds in the hospitality industry. Here is my top ten list of take-aways:

1. Rather than thinking of employment “at-will,” just think of it as employment of “free will.”

2. Just because you call someone an intern, does not mean you can not pay them minimum wage regardless of whether they are getting class credit, lawsuits by interns are on the rise.

3. Even Wall Street has learned that management trainees are not exempt, at least for the first six months of their tenure (if not longer).

4. To make sure employees are engaged and productive as the economy improves, don’t just conduct exit interviews, but also conduct periodic “stay interviews.”

5. Employee “opinion” surveys are outdated; the new approach is employee “engagement” surveys.

6. The unemployed may be a new protected category, so watch out for any blanket rule prohibiting hiring of individuals with employment gaps on their resume.

7. When responding to agency charges (EEOC or DFEH), do not attach your entire handbook or full policies, just attach excerpts; the agencies are now scrutinizing policies and looking for fault.

8. There is no such thing as an “automatic gratuity” (such as for a party of 8 or more); if it is not discretionary then it is a service charge, which means that it is included in the regular rate for overtime and sales tax calculations.

9. Employers who want to hire attractive people to service clubs and bars are creating job descriptions that require performances during the shifts, such as dancing or walking down a catwalk.

10. The new I9 form must be used by May 7th, so start using it now, and make sure you train the employees responsible for filling it out. There are many traps for the unwary and even minor violations can be costly. See Alka Bahal’s blog post for tips.