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Now THIS is the way to start 2013.

I received an email last week from a civil rights lawyer who has two children with celiac disease. She informed me that Lesley University had been sued by some students with celiac disease for not providing adequate/safe dining options for them.

And they students won…big time.

I’ll let her do the talking…

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Dear Gluten Dude,

Your fabulous blog has given me so much strength as I’ve dealt with the celiac diagnoses of my two kids and learned that I have celiac, too. So far, I’ve just laughed and enjoyed.

But now I need to write, to ask whether you’d be willing to blog about a fantastic development: after being investigated by the Justice Department, Lesley University (in Massachusetts) has agreed to make sure that its students with celiac can eat gluten free. The press release (which you can find here) quotes the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights as saying, “By implementing this agreement, Lesley University will ensure students with celiac disease and other food allergies can obtain safe and nutritional food options.” (I know, celiac isn’t an allergy, but it’s great to hear the Justice Department standing up for us.)

Among the things Lesley agrees to do:

  1. Continually provide ready-made hot and cold gluten and allergen free food options in its dining hall food lines;
  2. Develop individualized meal plans for students with food allergies, and allow those students to pre-order allergen free meals, that can be made available at the university’s dining halls in Cambridge and Boston;
  3. Provide a dedicated space in its main dining hall to store and prepare gluten-free and allergen-free foods and to avoid cross-contamination.

Pretty cool, right? And the best part is that the settlement document is the Justice Department’s way of making clear to colleges, universities, schools, summer camps and other types of “public accommodation” (maybe even restaurants?) that under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) they need to provide safe food for celiacs and people with food allergies or risk being sued.

By the way, the original students who filed the complaint that led to this investigation will each get $50,000, which should be a pretty good incentive for other institutions to comply.

Thanks for considering blogging about this. I’m a civil rights lawyer but don’t have a blogging platform to get the word out about this. Your blog would be a fantastic place for celiacs to learn about their rights under the ADA.

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This could be the start of something very, very nice.

Kudos to the students for standing up for what they believe in.

Fellow celiacs…keep on keeping on.

15 thoughts on “A Legal Victory for Celiacs!!

  1. All I have to say is—YEAH FU@&ING BUDDY!!!!!! WOOT WOOT! WAY TO GO!!!!! AND…….THANK YOU FOR TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM AND WINNING!!!!!!!!

  2. Brilliant news!!! Well doen to the students! Sadly, the news that a university or indeed any other institution could be sued is the right motivation for them to act upon things. At least this way the students in other institutions won’t have to fight so hard.

  3. That is totally amazing, how completely fantastic. I have had dealings with disability legislation in the UK and found it toothless and frustrating. I could not be more delighted for all those going through the good but also tough times of education and the transition to independent life to not to have to fight just to eat safely.

    And you can never have enough good reasons to play The Clash.

    What courageous students.

    Brilliant.

  4. Agree with all the jubilant comments above. I wonder if it will help the Australian student who ended up being glutened at Uni and ended up having to leave the course? Or UK hospitals? – just about the only place in the country you can’t either get a gluten-free meal or vote with your feet.

  5. I am glad that I found out in this day and age. I still hate having it, however now there are more people out to advocate for us. We are still in a minority even though its the most common autoimmune disease. My New Year resolution is to advocate for others that I may meet in my new life.

  6. This is so thrilling for so many. I have a daughter getting ready to go to college and I know she has a lot to face there. No one should ever have to battle multiple times a day just to get something that isn’t poisonous to eat. This should really make lives easier and pave the path for celiacs across the US and hopefully set an example for Universities and other establishments around the world.

  7. My 2 nieces attend Ithaca College in NY state. The freshman is a Celiac and at Christmas, she was all bubbly about the fact that she is totally accommodated there. They have a section where the GF food is kept and only certain, trained individuals and Celiac students can access the area. All MUST wear gloves when handling the food. There is variety. She can order her meal on-line and go to the dining hall to pick it up, all ready for her to eat. They have snacks. She is a happy girl!

    The best part is there is no “proving” you have Celiac. No stupid 504 or whatever they are before you can have the food. If you are accepted and enroll and say you need to eat GF, they accommodate. No hoops to jump through, which is great if you are self diagnosed.

  8. This is great news!!!

    I recently read an article about New Mexico State University, in which it was installing gluten free vending machines along with other “specialized” diet needs machines.

    It’s about time the universities start to better accommodate our children, especially with as much as we are paying to have them attend their campuses.

  9. This is really excellent news! I was just reading today about work required lunches/dinners and how the ADA is a little fuzzy about accomodations for celiacs. This might help a lot of people.

  10. Dude-

    This freaking rocks. See what you inspire?

    “Ive been beat up, Ive been thrown
    Out but Im not down, Im not down
    Ive been shown up, but Ive grown up
    And Im not down, Im not down”

    Im Not Down lyrics
    By : Clash

    Let’s rock 2013 and kick some gluten ass.

    XO,
    Jersey Girl

  11. My daughter is considering Lesley as one of her schools to transfer too. This is great news!

    Oakland University, in Rochester, MI has been very accommodating for her allergies also. They just don’t have the programs she needs past her BA.

    Score!!

  12. As the founder of a company that trains (AllerTrain) Universities/Colleges, K-12 and Restaurants of serving all those with special dietary needs it makes me sad it had to come to this but I totally understand the desire to have meals they can eat each and every time they want.
    Will be super interesting to see the ripple will show up for all schools that have students with CD and food allergies in others words, all schools. We are ready to train/help where possible.

    Thanks for carrying the message!
    Betsy
    Founder and CEO
    Kitchens with Confidence
    “Get Trained not Glutened”

  13. I have had an absolutely TERRIBLE experience. The university was absolutely shocking when it came to addressing my GF diet needs and not only failed to provide but also mislabelled their food 3-4 times a week

    Below are three (3) links to the articles I have written (including what I have reflected of my experience (Link #1), the email sent to admin (Link #2) and my comments on the head of hall’s response (Link #3)).

    Link #1: http://icmn91.hubpages.com/hub/Ursula-Hall-Gluten-Free
    Link #2: http://icmn91.hubpages.com/hub/Ursula-Hall-Gluten-Free-Email
    Link #3: http://icmn91.hubpages.com/hub/Ursula-Hall-Gluten-Free-Email-Response

    I hope you will find them interesting.

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