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The 10 Most Important Restaurant Legal Responsibilities

The 10 Most Important Restaurant Legal Responsibilities

Restaurants, like any other business, must adhere to federal, state and local laws in order to operate and protect the health of their customers and employees.

Here are the top ten legal responsibilities of every restaurant:

Menu Labeling

On March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into federal law. Section 4205 of this act states that restaurants with similar menus at 20 or more locations are required to clearly print the calorie count for each item on the menu.

Learn more about how FDA menu labeling affects diner's choices

  1. Employment and Labor.

    The Fair Labor Standards Act sets rules and provides guidance to ensure that employers in the United States do not violate the rights of their workers.
    »More on Restaurant Employment & Labor Laws
  2. Employee Information.

    Restaurants must verify that their employees are legally allowed to work in the United States. With the increase in illegal immigration crackdowns seen in 2008, this is becoming an even more important issue. 
  3. Food Safety.

    Food service establishments must follow local and federal food safety laws in order to minimize the chances of food poisoning outbreaks. Restaurants are also regularly inspected by the health department to assure Food Code compliance.
    »More a Restaurant Health & Safety
  4. Taxes.

    All restaurants are required to file quarterly and yearly tax returns on payroll, income and other taxable assets to the IRS.
    »More on Restaurant Taxes
  5. Wages.

    Restaurants are required to pay their employees based on current federal minimum wage and tipping laws.
    »More on Employee Wages and Benefits
  6. Insurance

    There are many risks associated with running a restaurant. One way to manage operational risks is through having liability, property and workers compensation insurance.
    »More on Managing Operational Risks
  7. Worker Safety.

    All food service establishments must provide a safe working environment to reduce the risk of employee injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces laws and provides recommendations for ensuring an injury-free commercial kitchen. 
    »More on OSHA
  8. Serving Alcohol.

    Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol must be licensed to do so. They are also legally responsible for the conduct of a patron who has too much to drink. 
    »More on How to Serve Alcohol Responsibly
  9. Trademarking.

    Before opening a restaurant, the owners must check to make sure that their restaurant’s name is not already registered or trademarked by another corporation. 
  10. Music Licenses.

    Many restaurants play music over a central speaker system. This helps set the mood and add to a restaurants concept. However, the restaurant must be licensed and pay for the music they play in order to avoid lawsuits from the music industry. 

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