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Judge Delivers Knock-out in Man's Fight for Gluten-free Gravy 03/18/2016 - An Australian man's fight to force his local pub to provide gluten-free gravy to go with his gluten-free New Year meal made it all the way to that country's Federal Circuit Court, before a judge brought the man's quest to an ignoble end by pronouncing the suit "frivolous," and dismissing it entirely.

Photo: gavel--cc--bloomsberries.jpgThe man in the center of the battle is Bruce Skeen, an elderly gentleman with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Mr. Skeen's travails began when he paid $1 to attend Christmas function at Blacktown Workers Club in December 2013.

For the Christmas function, Skeen pre-ordered a gluten-free meal and gluten-free dessert, despite never having done so in the past. When his gluten-free roast dinner arrived without gluten-free gravy, Mr. Skeen became "angry and disruptive."

One week later, Mr Skeen returned to the club, where he became "physically and verbally aggressive" towards staff as he placed another order for a gluten-free meal and demanded gluten-free gravy be served at the upcoming New Year's Eve function. When he did not receive his gluten-free gravy he had demanded, he later sued the club for discrimination.

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Skeen's suit was dismissed as frivolous by the Federal Circuit Court in Sydney last month. Suing establishments for discrimination over failure to provide gluten-free foods seems to be on the rise lately, and not just in America. 

What do you think? Is Mr. Skeen helping the cause of celiacs, or is he perhaps doing more harm than good?

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7 Responses:

Dick L.
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said this on
19 Mar 2016 1:01:50 AM PDT
Taking "frivolous" as a legal term, I agree with the judge. It's not funny, of course. Annoying, perhaps, maybe obnoxious, but those aren't words for a legal opinion.

As for helping or hurting our cause, I think it hurts more than helps. It helps a little by raising the issue publicly, but probably hurts more by making us seem like out of touch whiners.

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said this on
21 Mar 2016 7:23:35 AM PDT
More harm than good. If he was going to be that picky, he should have checked ahead to see what was going to be served and if he didn't like the fact that there would be no gravy, he shouldn't have gone. When places try to accommodate and then get treated like this, right or wrong it just makes celiacs gain a reputation as complaining prima donnas. It hurts us all.

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said this on
21 Mar 2016 8:26:59 AM PDT
I think we're still at the point of trying to make sure that the gluten free meal doesn't have cross contamination and the plaintiff needs to adjust his expectations.

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said this on
21 Mar 2016 8:48:27 AM PDT
More harm than good. The fact that he could pre-order the meal means they did what they could. I guess they didn't know how to make gluten free gravy so they left it off. He should have been grateful for what they could and did provide.

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said this on
22 Mar 2016 6:56:36 AM PDT
I think we all understand this man's frustration, and perhaps he did not further his cause by becoming so publicly angry. If a gluten free meal was offered, it should be so and not just partially, or require that the diner settle for part of a meal. Let's hope this judge finds himself in a situation where it is impossible for him to eat what others are freely given. That said, I do think the guy is asking for a lot for A$1.00! Even if gravy is an essential part of the Aussie diet.

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said this on
22 Mar 2016 11:50:15 AM PDT
Being celiac has left the majority of us when we go out to eat,
with meals that are very much not as we remember; from the
lack of gravy as Mr. Skeen has so eloquently stated maybe taking his "want" of gravy to too high a court we can all sympathize.

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said this on
24 Mar 2016 5:35:27 PM PDT
More harm than good. Many celiacs face this dilemma. Some even goes as far as sitting in a restaurant or at a family dinner with nothing but a drink. Never willing to chance cross contamination.

Celiacs are also not the only ones with dietary restrictions that must deal with these frustrations. Food allergies, diabetics, ect. They must also be careful when dining. The establishment did try to provide for the gentleman. Many places would not go so far as even that.
Also, when dining out, one is restricted by what is available at the restaurant. One can't order pizza from red lobster, if it is not on the menu. And then bring up legal action because red lobster did not provide the pizza provide pizza.

Many times celiacs face the issue of people not taking the disease seriously. Comments like..."it is all in your head," And a little crumb can't hurt, just go back on your diet tomorrow," are thrown about. Public Tantrums such as this does not support the seriousness of the disease.

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We in the UK he takes a pack lunch and have asked for a health plan so wait and see. Not easy when he taking his gcse and he wants to do well. Thanks for the advice