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Discrimination
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I think I was discriminated against at work.

I work at a preschool and was recently written up for eating outside food (from home). I have been working at this facility for about 8 weeks and last week the owner was telling me that we can eat breakfast with the kids and I told her, "Oh, I have celiac disease. I can't really eat anything from the kitchen." She replies, "That's okay. I understand." So, I assumed I could bring my own food to eat with the kids since she knew and didn't say anything about outside food. The following week the Directors pulled me aside and explained to me that we couldn't bring outside food because kids have allergies. I was very sympathetic and assured them that I was not intentionally breaking any rules, instead I was given conflicting information. They proceeded to write me up and when I assured them that I understood food allergies since I had celiac disease, one of the directors made the comment, "Oh, well while you might experience some mild discomfort, these kids could die." I was appalled. Mild discomfort? I replied, "It's more than mild discomfort. Please don't trivialize my illness." He chuckled like I was kidding.

So, I want to talk to the owner about making "reasonable accommodations" since I am protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am not asking for much, just the ability to bring my own lunch on days I am entitled to a lunch break, but I think they will refuse it.

What do I do?

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Ads by Google:

I found this http://www.triumphdining.com/blog/2010/11/05/gluten-free-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-ada/

This is better - http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/sociallifestyleresources/f/Does-The-Americans-With-Disabilities-Act-Cover-People-With-Celiac-Disease.htm

I really don't have any other advice, other than try to talk about this with your supervisor, and bring succinct medically relevant documentation and studies.

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While I do understand the POV of the center, I don't see how you bringing in food would violate anything as long as you ate it away from the children. Maybe offer to brush your teeth after too just as an extra precaution. I wonder if they allow any of the students to bring in food, because if they do, there is no reason you should not be able to.

I am it felt like he was trivializing your illness but I am sure a) it wasn't meant like that and B) he doesn't understand they full extent of how badly you can feel after eating gluten. So maybe a little education and maybe a Dr's letter expelling it to him may be of use to you. I am sure they are just trying to do what they think is best of the students but again, if they are allowing outside food brought in by them, it's no different (actually probably worse for them as I am sure you would be more careful!)

Good luck!

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I would think there are some kind of standards that the kitchen must abide to in order to serve children with allergies. Do they have a list of safe foods that can be provided to you to make sure your outside food fits in with the guidelines of what is allowed in the center (no peanuts, etc)?

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I would think there are some kind of standards that the kitchen must abide to in order to serve children with allergies.

There are not. Many parents with kids with life threatening food allergies pack for the kid....always. As in a no food that's not from home rule. It would be nice but the reality is, just the these restaurants, there is no exclusive kitchen for allergy issues and often cross contamination isn't even considered when ordering through the sources the schools have.

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I'm sorry to hear about the problem at work. I feel for you. Having several school aged kids myself, let me explain a few things to you:

"That's okay. I understand." Actally meant, "I understand why you won't be eating with the kids."

As far as that director trivializing what you go through when you get glutened, that just means that they are more worried about upset parents or parents that might sue if something happens to their kids.

I don't think they were purposely discriminating against you. At least I would hope that it wasn't anything personal against you. I don't know about the disabilities act. I would try to explain to them rationally first before it gets that point but you do what you feel is necessary.

Good luck to you and I am sorry they did that to you.

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There are not. Many parents with kids with life threatening food allergies pack for the kid....always. As in a no food that's not from home rule.

Then I would want to know why you can't bring your food in. You can't safely eat the food they serve and are no different from the kids that pack a lunch. I could understand them not letting you bring in food that they know a particular child is allergic to but they can't expect you to just not eat during your shift if it is a shift length that legally requires you to have a lunch break. If you are officially diagnosed by your doctor bring in a note from him/her about your need to eat safely. Celiac is covered under the ADA and IMHO it is discrimination.

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Hi.

Your situation really sucks. It sounds like there was miscommunication here. (Thought during the meeting with the boss that was just plain rude). Sadly, there are steps that are required to get accommodations. You can't just come in and say that you have something and go about what you want. If the childcare facility has an HR department that is who you want to talk to. You want to bring in a letter from your doctor stating that you have celiac disease and what you have to do to stay healthy. Then you talk with your employer about accommodations. Just going and doing it on your own, while makes sense, isn't how the law works. Some places will be okay with that, but others will be sticklers and make you go through the whole process. It sounds like your workplace is one of those places. I would think they would have a staff lounge where you could eat your lunch away from the children and then wash your hands before going back to work with the children. If you are not diagnosed by a doctor (and your doctor wont diagnose you with the changes in your health) they you are out of luck. There is not protection required if you are not diagnosed by a doctor (which is why for some of us it is important to be diagnosed by a doctor). I hope you get this all worked out.

Addition: If they are being prickly about this they don't have to provide you with accommodations until you have officially met with them and provided them with the paperwork.

Edited by Googles
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You should be able to bring in food that meets your needs so long as it doesn't contain anything that will harm the children. I've been on prac in a preschool and they have a no nuts, no fish, no sesame seeds rule. That makes it a little tricky for me (I rely on nuts as a snack a lot) but I can work around it. I can see how he's more worried about anaphalactyic reactions, but he shouldn't deny your right to eat a safe meal.

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There is no way they can deny you safe food. You need to sit down with the boss and have a serious conversation. Explain that celiac disease is a serious autoimmune condition that can make you extremely ill. It CAN kill you, just not as fast as anaphylaxis.

This is extremely rare, but my GI (one of the handful of GI docs who actually know about celiac) told me about a patient of his who had a celiac crisis. Her immune system went into overdrive after she was glutened and started shutting down her organs. She was hospitalized for a month and has to take strong immunosuppressants to stay alive. She is a mother to young children and this story just makes me so sad.

There is someone on this board who had their colon explode on them and they have an ostomy bag.

Celiac reactions are serious, just as serious as any allergy. If you are exposed repeatedly it will be very dangerous for you.

You must be able to bring safe food to work. They can give you guidelines so that you dont' bring stuff that can hurt the children. You can eat it away from them. But they cannot deny you safe food.

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