Americans with Disabilities Act and Celiac Disease… this is going to be a multipart series because it is a big issue.
Let’s start a the beginning with the Leslie University decision. In 2012 a celiac patient matriculated at Leslie University. As is common at most universities, first year students are required to live on campus and purchase a meal plan. The university did not provide gluten free meals. The Department of Justice sued the university for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and won.
The decision stated that the university would provide gluten-free and allergen-free food options in its dining hall food lines for those with documented allergies, allow students to pre-order allergen free meals, display signs letting students know of specific allergens in the food, train staff for allergy protocols, and provide a dedicated allergen space in the dining hall.
The decision also mentions $50,000 in compensatory damages for other students previously not accommodated.
The accommodations were implemented because the university required purchase of the meal plan. The student had no ability to utilize the required service for which they were paying because of their disability. Therefore, the university was liable for damages.
This student had medical documentation of their disability. They were diagnosed with celiac disease. Other food related allergies, like a documented peanut or tree nut allergy, would be covered under this decision. In contrast, it is unclear if non-celiac gluten sensitivity would be covered under this ruling because there is no definitive test to prove NCGS.
Press release regarding this decision from the Justice Department. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-and-lesley-university-sign-agreement-ensure-meal-plan-inclusive-students
Tomorrow – the rule of “public accommodation” and how this decision affects that ruling.