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  • CPT B. Donald Andrasik
    CPT B. Donald Andrasik

    Et tu, Brute?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Summer 2015 Issue - Originally published July 16, 2015


    Caption: Image: CC--fr.zll

    Celiac.com 11/10/2015 - I can only imagine the gut wrenching betrayal Caesar must have considered in the final moments of his life. Brutus, a trusted friend, took it upon himself to rid Rome of his long time ally for the betterment of society, wielding the dagger that (for better or worse) ultimately changed the Roman Empire and altered history.

    Most of us will go our whole lives blissfully unaware of how deep that dagger cuts; but not so for the staff of P.F. Changs. After years of being leading pioneers in the gluten-free restaurant business they were served with a discriminatory lawsuit. Anna Marie Phillips decided to file the suit against the gluten-free restaurant claiming the extra dollar surcharge is both discriminatory and unfair for those who are required to maintain a gluten-free diet. Suing for potentially millions, her class action law suit could be the legal dagger that changes the celiac landscape for years to come.

    The legal basis for this law suit is most likely buried in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which expanded its legal guidelines in the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008. Mark Heller, Ms. Phillips attorney, was quoted from Yahoo Health "To have to pay a premium price is discriminatory, and there is legal basis for a case. It would be like installing a handicapped ramp and then charging people a dollar to use it." While I do not doubt either of their noble intentions, I would argue that a business does not incur an additional cost or delay each and every time someone utilizes their wheel chair ramp.

    The greater issue is what is at risk for the entire gluten-free community. Living most of my life on the diet (since the 1990's) I have witnessed the remarkable achievements celiacs have made over the years. While costs are still higher for gluten-free food, our capitalist society allows for the market to react to supply and demand. The more profitable the industry the more options become available to consumers. The more options there are, the lower the price goes in the marketplace. This is the American way of life.

    Now, imagine for a moment that the gluten-free restaurant industry was no longer as profitable. gluten-free restaurants could not legally charge a premium for their products; but, were still required to go through the extra steps of preparing them correctly. Would their willingness to create a gluten-free menu fade? Would a gluten-free meal prepared by someone with a legal dagger to their back taste as delectable? Will there be anyone left to make it?

    "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's."


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    I absolutely agree that this lawsuit could set us back years! I understand and have also felt singled out when I have to pay more for gluten free options, but I too believe that restaurants in particular incur higher costs to offer the food and train the staff. I'm eternally grateful when a business has something to offer me as opposed to not eating out and enjoying time with friends and family. I hope this lawsuit falls apart! Kudos to P.F. Changs for going above and beyond and being one of the first to do so.

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    We have to pay more for gluten free bread, cookies, etc. at the grocery store, so I suppose this is an extension of that. But it doesn't make it right. There's a lot of egregious profiteering in the gluten free market because we are a captive market. Competition will ultimately (hopefully) bring prices down.

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    I think the lawsuit is unwarranted. It takes more time and concern to properly prepare gluten free food and I for one, am very happy to go to restaurant that offers gluten free dishes. Very happy that PF Chang's offers gluten free food and I would not like seeing them discontinue this service.

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  • About Me

    CPT B. Donald Andrasik is the author of Gluten-free in Afghanistan – A Soldier's Dietary Memoir, available on Celiac.com, Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

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