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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

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

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    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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    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 gluten-free guests, we lose money on every individual gluten-free 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 gluten-free order) it is easily a loss. We can only hope that the person who needs gluten-free 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 gluten-free becomes more and more mainstream the prices will drop, and then maybe we could offer at regular price, but unfortunately gluten-free 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 gluten-free options you will see in the market for everyone.

    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!!!

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    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 gluten-free options but I do mind paying for something I do not eat!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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