Tennessee Restaurants and Bars Celebrate Larger ABC Fines for Sales to Minors

By - March 17, 2017 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

We rarely hear business owners excited to pay more money to government.  But many Tennessee restaurants, bars and venues are eagerly supporting pending legislation to allow the ABC to increase fines for sales to minors to $10,000.

You can read the entire bill here HB0435.

Reliable sources on the Hill say that the bill will become law.

Tennessee is well-known in the nation for under 21 ID stings.  The Tennessee ABC and local law enforcement have been quite successful citing liquor license holders for sales to minors.

Current law limits ABC fines to $1,500 for sales to minors.  Understandably, the ABC has favored suspensions for a second sale to minor within 2 years.  Many licensees have served 7 to 14 day suspensions for a second sale.  Most of the time, an ABC suspension also leads to a beer board suspension.

Industry has been clamoring for allowing the ABC to increase the fine for a second sale to minor – instead of devastating suspensions.

Our good buddy Willa reminds us of the classic John Conlee tune:

The bills are all due
The babies need shoes
I’m busted

Stay tuned for updates about the 2017 legislation session.

How Do I Transfer a Liquor License When I Purchase a Restaurant or Bar in Tennessee?

By - March 12, 2017 | Alcoholic Beverage Law | Email Will Cheek

We hear it all the time.  A top of the charts question is how do I transfer the liquor license when I purchase a restaurant or bar in Tennessee?

Here is a simple guide.

1. Liquor licenses in Tennessee are not bought and sold.  Unlike many states, liquor  licenses and beer permits are issued to any qualified applicant in Tennessee.  Licenses have no value.

2. When you buy a business that serves beer, wine and spirits, you have to obtain your own beer and liquor licenses.  You can be looking at a prolonged interruption in service if you fail to apply and obtain your own beer and liquor licenses.

3. Make sure you understand local beer board practices.  The rules vary widely from city to city.  For example, in Nashville, it is best to apply at closing, or the beer inspector may visit and tell you to stop selling beer.  Check with your local beer board before closing and make sure you know what you need to do to.  Most importantly, do what you are told by your local beer board.

4. The Tennessee ABC will accept an interim management agreement that allows you to “use” the seller’s liquor license.  The interim management agreement must have some magic language and we strongly advise that you file a copy of the agreement with the ABC at closing.  Otherwise, you risk the ABC revoking the license, which means an interruption in service.

5. Make sure you complete all the steps to obtain your own beer permit and liquor license.  Too often, we hear from well-intentioned purchasers that are facing an interruption in service because they do not obtain their own licenses.

Classic Hank Williams Jr. comes to mind:

Play me the songs about ramblin man
Put old Jim Beam in my hand
Cause you know I still love to get drunk
And hear country sounds

 

 

Tennessee Grocery Stores, Restaurants, Bars and Hotels Be on the Alert for Immigration Raids

By - March 03, 2017 | Alcoholic Beverage Law, Wigs Manager | Email Will Cheek

Just today, March 3, 2017, we heard from a restaurant that was “inspected” by agents looking for illegal immigrants and asking about proper documentation.  Scary stuff.  We understand that one or more Tennessee ABC agents lead the investigation.

Bone McAllester immigration expert Raquel Bellamy offers these Top 5 Immigration Tips for Employers.

Unauthorized immigration is a hot topic these days. Undocumented immigrants are roughly 5% of the U.S. civilian labor force, as reported by the Pew Research Center.  We suspect that many restaurants, bars and hotels have a much higher percentage of illegals.

Some employees give employers fake documents. Other employers intentionally hire undocumented immigrants, to gain a competitive advantage by offering lower pay and fewer protections. In the most egregious scenarios, employers falsify records and participate in labor trafficking by recruiting and smuggling workers from abroad (a big no no!).

A recent federal immigration executive order deputizes state and local law enforcement authorities to act as ICE agents.  Legally, TABC agents, local police and even beer board inspectors can now search your business for illegal or improperly documented immigrants.

Here are our top five immigration tips for employers:

1. Anticipate increased auditing of records to verify I-9 compliance. Locate and organize your records to avoid costly delays. You should have a completed I-9 for each employee.

2. Prepare for the inevitable by conducting an internal audit, which will help you identify any I-9 compliance issues.

3. Consult a competent employment attorney regarding any potential liability for violations of I-9 regulations.

4. Train front office staff (receptionists, hostesses, etc.) on how to respond to law enforcement officials who enter the premises to inquire about immigration violations. Know your rights to limit access of law enforcement officers.

5. Avoid discrimination based on national origin against potential employees. During the interview phase, limit your inquiry to whether the applicant is authorized to work in the United States and whether the applicant will require sponsorship to obtain work authorization. If an applicant or a current employee is confused about work authorization, you should encourage him/her to seek independent counsel.

6. I know I said 5, but who doesn’t love a bonus? Show compassion for workers who are experiencing personal trauma as a result of the changes in immigration enforcement priorities. Even U.S. citizens may experience a high level of anxiety over the potential impact to their family members and friends. Be mindful of negative interactions between employees. Some of my clients have reported workplace harassment. In one instance, a worker was blackmailed by a co-worker who threatened to call ICE. Employers should be aware of any workplace intimidation and maintain a policy against bullying. Again, regardless of your position on the debate, we are all less safe when pockets of our population are particularly vulnerable.

Ray Stevens controversial tune “Come to the U.S.A.” seems timely:

If you thinkin’ about illegal immigration
Be careful when you’re choosin’ the nation
‘Cause breakin’ the law in some countries is frowned upon.
Imagine that.

In a rare bit of shameless self-promotion, we can help you make sure you are properly documented, in case agents come a knockin’.  Feel free to e-mail us at will@willcheek.com