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P.F. Chang's Looks to Dismiss Gluten-free Disability Suit

Celiac.com 11/16/2015 - P.F. Chang's seeking to dismiss an amended complaint filed by a woman who claims the restaurant chain violated federal anti-discrimination laws by charging higher prices for gluten-free items than for non-gluten-free items.

Photo: CC--Mike KalasnikPlaintiff Anna Marie Phillips initially sued P.F. Chang's in California state court in December, but P.F. Chang's got the case moved to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Lawyers for P.F. Chang's first moved to dismiss Phillips' class action in February, claiming her celiac disease does not make her a disabled person under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Federal Judge Ronald Whyte heard oral arguments in May, and "tentatively granted" the motion to dismiss, with a final ruling to be issued later.

In August, the federal judge granted P.F. Chang's motion to dismiss Phillips' original complaint. The court ruled that the plaintiff failed to allege facts showing that the restaurant chain discriminated against her and other guests with celiac disease or a gluten allergy/intolerance, by charging $1 more for some gluten-free menu items compared to non-gluten-free versions of menu items with a similar name but prepared and handled much differently.

However, Whyte did grant Phillips a leave to amend, while expressing his "reservations" that she could ever mount a viable claim using her discrimination theory.

P.F. Chang's, in its Sept. 24 motion to dismiss the amended complaint, contends the new complaint asserts the same disability-discrimination claims and offers "few additional facts" and "none that warrant a different result."

The plaintiff asserts, P.F. Chang's notes, that the gluten-free menu items are "essentially the same" and are "not truly different dishes" because they have the same basic ingredients.

What do you think? Are restaurants wrong to charge more for gluten-free food? Share your thoughts and opinions below.

Read More: Legalnewsonline.com

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14 Responses:

 
Cathy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
16 Nov 2015 10:25:34 AM PST
Thank you PF Chang for serving GF meals. I am always willing to pay extra to make sure I have safe food to eat. This woman just wants money or fame, or both. I sincerely hope the court throws this out!

 
CharlieGirl
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
16 Nov 2015 12:38:44 PM PST
I am very happy when I find a restaurant that not only serves GF dishes, but understands the need to have a clean prep surface and tools and training for their kitchen staff. Paying an extra $1 is no problem and I can relax and enjoy a meal out. This is a nuisance suit and should be thrown out of the court. What a waste of taxpayer money!

 
Mary Beth
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
17 Nov 2015 5:02:36 AM PST
I agree that this suit needs to be dismissed. As a celiac, I know that I require special food items that are more expensive (e.g. GF bread or GFsoy sauce). I also know that preparing my food requires special handling which could disrupt the flow in the kitchen. I am grateful to any restaurant who is willing to offer GF alternatives to me.

Requiring restaurants to offer my GF alternatives at the same price will discourage restaurants from making this options available.

It's not discrimination; it's a mutually beneficial deal. I get more restaurants offering food I can safely eat and I pay a slightly higher price to offset the increased expense for them to accommodate me.

This is a win/win. This suit will only change the situation to a lose/lose.

 
Cindy
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
23 Nov 2015 1:01:01 PM PST
This as a frivolous lawsuit. It should be dismissed. GF food is more expensive and the restaurant staff needs to be trained to properly prepare GF items so the can be safely enjoyed by celiacs. I'll gladly pay extra for a safe GF meal at any restaurant that is willing to serve them.

 
Wendellyn
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
24 Nov 2015 3:02:35 AM PST
It is a known fact that GF Foods cost more. Whether it is in a restaurant or the grocery store. Just like Organics, supply and demand. What is so disappointing is the fact that many restaurants lie about their food prep. I have gotten sick many times from food that is supposedly prepared gluten free. Unfortunately, THEY DON'T CARE AND DARE YOU TO PROVE IT WAS THEIR RESTAURANT.

 
Rango
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
24 Nov 2015 3:06:03 PM PST
Don't eat at those Restaurants. That's your choice. ..jf..

 
Suzan
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
24 Nov 2015 5:48:01 AM PST
Why should I have to pay more for having a disease that I didn't cause? I didn't ask or choose to have celiac so it's not okay to have to pay more. I eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. I can only eat the nachos and I modify it a lot. They do not charge me extra and often the manager makes my food because he wants me to keep coming back as a customer. That is what a restaurant is supposed to do. P.F. Changs makes it seem like they are doing us a big favor cause we have this disease and they are going to make us pay for it. I hope the woman wins. I shouldn't be punished for this and I have a right to have a normal life. Well as normal as I can with this disease.

 
Rango
Rating: ratingfullratingemptyratingemptyratingemptyratingempty Unrated
said this on
24 Nov 2015 3:09:01 PM PST
To pay for a service is worth it! If you don't like it let the owner know you won't be back because of that. They will decide if it's worth it or not!

 
Janet
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingempty Unrated
said this on
30 Nov 2015 4:52:10 PM PST
Why should we be condemned to not being able to eat out, or just be able to safely order only one lousy appetizer off an entire menu?! I'll gladly pay an extra dollar for PF Chang's extra care and increased costs because my idea of a normal life is being able to go out with friends and not stress about whether I'm going to either get glutened or starve.

 
Karen
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
22 Dec 2015 4:05:50 AM PST
Suzan, the restaurant didn't give you celiac disease. Why should they bear the burden of the extra cost? P.F. Chang's is doing us a big favor. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and try to appreciate that companies like this are trying to make your life better by giving you options.

 
G. Freeholder
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
24 Nov 2015 5:20:33 PM PST
Get real! it's a free country. Nobody forces you to buy anything. It's your choice. If you don't want to pay $1.00 more then go eat somewhere else. Here's what else costs more : sugar free, salt free, low carb, kosher, cafein free (decaf) coffee, low calorie, etc. And nobody complains.

 
Ray
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
08 Dec 2015 5:17:47 AM PST
As an owner of a Culver's restaurant, we were the first large chain to offer a gluten free bun. This lawsuit is ridiculous!!! All of you people that support it please realize that we do this as a service to our GF guests, we lose money on every individual GF bun we sell because they cost right around $1.00 when we buy them and we sell them for $1.00, so by the time we pay to train the team to observe proper precautions (not to mention they extra time it takes to prepare a GF order) it is easily a loss. We can only hope that the person who needs GF either buys other items or brings people that we can make money on (and 90% do and are super appreciative). It is not about discrimination, I am happy to prepare you a hamburger with no bun and observe all of the proper procedures to make sure you are served safe food that will not get you glutened. If you have never been to a Culver's Restaurant, they are probably one of the most allergy friendly restaurants in the market, they have buttons for almost every allergy, and take them very seriously. Keep in mind folks if we charged what we needed to cover overhead, labor, and food cost, the price would be north of $3 just for the bun alone at this point. As GF becomes more and more mainstream the prices will drop, and then maybe we could offer at regular price, but unfortunately GF is seen more as a FAD at this point rather than a solution to an illness. I can not speak for other restaurants, but my guess is the more of this type of legal action, the less GF options you will see in the market for everyone.

 
Lynne
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
20 Sep 2016 1:42:53 PM PST
Clap, Clap, Clap. But.....do you give a discount if a gluten free person orders a hamburger WITHOUT ANY BUN AT ALL? No. I am tired of ordering food with no bun, no, bread, no sauce and still being charged the full price. Change your thinking!!!

 
Lynne
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
20 Sep 2016 1:48:58 PM PST
Law suit is stupid. I have hashimato's and have to watch gluten but do not suffer as most. However I am tired of ordering food with no bun, no bread, no sauce, no dressing, etc. and getting charged the same. I do not mind paying extra for GF options but I do mind paying for something I do not eat!




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