Let’s put our legal hats on today, shall we, and ponder the following question:
At what point in time does an establishment’s “rule” cross the line and turn into “discrimination” against celiacs?
(A quick Dude note…this is not about lawsuits or suing anybody for damages…just about trying to figure out what’s right.)
(Oh…and a second quick Dude note to anybody new here…when I use the term “celiacs”, I am referring to ALL people with gluten-related health issues.)
Consider the above question as you read an email I received yesterday:
I went to an ALL day concert event yesterday. I made sure I ate a BIG breakfast and packed my bars and sunflower seeds in my backpack. I left my cooler in my car as you are not allowed to bring them in the stadium. I had all the food I needed for the long day. When it came time for dinner, after I ate my bar and seeds for lunch, I went to go out to my car and eat. The people said I couldn’t go out and if I did, I was leaving for the day. I had my daughter and friends at the show and there was another five hours left to go. SO I had to starve. Not one thing in the place was safe to eat. I was so upset, so hungry, and so frustrated that anyone with Celiac or Gluten Sensitivity could not eat there! Either let me bring my food or provide me with some. I am so tired of feeling afraid to go places and enjoy things because I’m afraid I will starve or be sick!!
So here’s the question: Was she discriminated against?
People NEED food as a basic necessity.
Celiacs NEED gluten-free food to avoid getting very sick.
If you are telling me that I cannot bring food to your establishment for a 12 hour event, should you have to provide food that is safe for me to eat?
There was another case recently where a woman brought her 2 year old son to a Pizza Hut as part of a school event. Her son has celiac disease. So she “stopped at McDonald’s first to get him a hamburger without the bun, and some french fries, which is safe for him to eat.”
(I know, I know…but I’ll stay on topic.)
But when she arrived at Pizza Hut, even though the party she was with ordered pizza, the waitress told the woman and son that they could not eat the McDonald’s food in Pizza Hut and they had to leave.
(Fine…I’ll ask. Seriously? He has celiac disease and you went to McDonald’s??)
The woman said the actions of the Pizza Hut manager violated her son’s rights as a person living with a disability. She claims food allergies that interfere with “major life activities” are considered disabilities.
Marca Bristo, who helped craft the original Americans with Disabilities Act during the 1980s, said “…if a food allergy affects life activities, it’s got to be considered a disability and should fall under the act.”
So it’s very possible that while the two circumstance above are quite different, in both cases celiacs were discriminated against. And perhaps the policies need to change to help protect us better.
My question to you is simple: Do you agree?
And a follow up question: Have you ever felt discriminated against?