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…
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:
- Continually provide ready-made hot and cold gluten and allergen free food options in its dining hall food lines;
- 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;
- 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.
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.