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    Do you have questions about celiac disease or the gluten-free diet?

NicoleAJ

For You Law Savvy People Out There

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I honestly don't know the answer to this question, and I don't mean to anger anyone with this question--I'm just genuinely curious about the legal definitions and ramifications of our disease. When potential employers ask you to check off boxes about your minority or disability status, what do you do? Technically, unless we have other complications, we are all vibrant, able-bodied, functioning members of society, but the effects of gluten contamination can be both temporarily debilitating and pose long-range problems for our health. In some jobs it's completely easy to maintain a gluten free lifestyle, but in others, it is very difficult to have access to the foods that we need to remain healthy, and things would be a lot easier if our employers made *reasonable* efforts that would help us to assure our own safety in terms of food.

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Unless a well controlled celiac disease would significantly interfere with the daily requirements of your job, it should not come up. If you are to be a pastry chef, it may play a role, and is then worth talking to your potential employer about. (Employers actually can't ask you most questions about your status on most things - could lead to discrimination. Or, in some situations they can ask, but can't make you answer. Laws can vary by state as well.)

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I've never been asked about disability status before. It was mentioned before that the US Military does consider Celiac a disability. Those with celiac cannot be put into "unfreindly" sittuations. e.g. Iraq...how would they safely feed you??

As far as general. I believe it to be a disability, someone did call the ADA once and they got a yes answer.

Here is the ADA definition of a disability:

An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability is covered, but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu, generally would not be covered.

The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

The third part of the definition protects individuals who are regarded as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement from being denied employment because an employer feared the "negative reactions" of customers or co-workers.

Reference: http://www.ada.gov/q%26aeng02.htm

Note that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to employment.

Personally I think celiac qualifies. It does impair my life activities, particularly due to my arthritis and fibro that are caused by my celiac. Those symptoms remain and impede me daily. For celiac though, as long as I maintain control on my diet then celiac does not interfere with my life acitivities. But one contamination and I'm outta work for 2-3 days, let alone any other life activities.

I think that it depends on what your symptoms are, realistically how well our diet works, other associated syndromes/diseases/problems you have that are caused by or related to your symptoms.

I think each person would be different, and I also don't think you'd get a solid answer until you talked to an attorney that understands disability law.

Of course, anything would require an official diagnosis as your doctor(s) would likely be consulted.

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I called the ADA once when I was dx'ed. They said it probably is a disability, but it would depend from person to person and place to place. It's a crapshoot, as far as they're concerned.

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Quite frankly, I also think it depends upon your doctor's notes and perspective. I have applied for Social Security Disability because the gluten intolerance has affected my brain. My neurologist was the one who told me to apply. His notes are pretty strong, as well as the second neurologist I see, so I would hope that it would be considered a disability.

If you're talking about in your workplace, it's pretty easy to consider it a disability -- and your employer would have to make accommodations for that.

If you're talking about Social Security -- Ha! I expect to be rejected at least twice -- then have an attorney go before the hearing and then I'll get it. It's rediculous.

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From 2001-2003 in Canada it was considered a disability because of the fact we had to trudge everywhere to get food, the making of the food the fact that this disease could interfere with daily living. Then all of a sudden so bright individual who doesn't have this decided that it isn't a disability because we don't need a feeding tube. So, now it is considered a medical expense which means, in order to get any part of it off our income tax we need to make copious amounts of money.

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If you're talking about Social Security -- Ha! I expect to be rejected at least twice -- then have an attorney go before the hearing and then I'll get it. It's rediculous.

Wow, keep us informed! This is typical of social security, it takes at least 2 denials, then an attorney (at your expense) to get any $$ out of the gov't for social security disability.

What kinds of symptoms do you have that your neurologists feel so strongly about? I haven't had many noticeable cognitive issues, mine seem to be all physical...

My biggest problem is my arthritis and fibro. I am a computer scientist and all my training, education, and expierence is in the computer industry. Well, it hurts to type, and it is getting worse.

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I do consider Celiacs to be a disability under the law because it does rule our lives and could be a problem at work and/or school. I do not, however, list it when filling out paper work.

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in most cases, our employers don't supply us with food, so it's kinda a moot point at work in many situations (not all, I know, and in those other situations, employers may have to make some accomodations). if we stay on the gluten-free diet, we're pretty much like anyone else unless we're dealing with additional medical problems, which usually end up needing to be dealt with on a case by case basis if it comes down to involving the law. and then, it's mostly "my doctor says...", which is dependent of having a good doctor...

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I've been denied housing because of it. No joke, and this happened a few days after I was diagnosed. I was paying for a room from the 1st of May and arriving on the 12th late at night and the jerk that ran the place wanted me to spend a night in a hostel and check in the next day. I called and sent her an email stating that with chronic fatigue and my gluten free diet (= many hours in multiple grocery stores finding food) there was no way I could move in on Saturday and get everything done by the time I started work on Monday, so I would like to have a friend pick up my key a week early and stay in the room (you don't want to be walking around honolulu after dark if you're obviously from out of town, safety precaution).

She then returned my deposit and said I was being too difficult. I'm still trying to decide if I should create hell for her with the fair housing office when I get there.

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I've been denied housing because of it. No joke, and this happened a few days after I was diagnosed. I was paying for a room from the 1st of May and arriving on the 12th late at night and the jerk that ran the place wanted me to spend a night in a hostel and check in the next day. I called and sent her an email stating that with chronic fatigue and my gluten free diet (= many hours in multiple grocery stores finding food) there was no way I could move in on Saturday and get everything done by the time I started work on Monday, so I would like to have a friend pick up my key a week early and stay in the room (you don't want to be walking around honolulu after dark if you're obviously from out of town, safety precaution).

She then returned my deposit and said I was being too difficult. I'm still trying to decide if I should create hell for her with the fair housing office when I get there.

That is OUTRAGEOUS! I would create hell, I think. What a jerk!

mmaccartney: I have gluten ataxia. There are sites (mostly because of studies done in the UK) that can explain it better than me, but here goes: there are proteins on the Perkinje cells of the cerebellum of the brain and the retinas of the eye that are extremely similar to gliadin. They rely on gliosis for their maintenance. With gluten ataxia, the body mistakes these cells for the same cells that are in gluten. Therefore, when the antigliadin antibodies are elevated, the body just starts attacking everything, including the Perkinje cells and subsequently destroying them. Because of that, the cerebellum doesn't get a fluid stream of information in order to coordinate (basically every part of) the body. When you're drunk, the alcohol affects your cerebellum -- hence, you fail the drunk test. I can't even stand with my feet together now. They tried to have me close my eyes and put my hands out in front of me at the doctor, and they caught me right before I hit the floor. It's started affecting other things too (I just posted a topic about hating this disease that has a lot of what's happening to me). I fall ALL the time, can't drive now, am in a wheelchair, etc. etc. The really ironic thing? Before it happened, I was 6'1, 148 lbs., size 6 or 8, and 12% bodyfat. I was buff! My daughter has a picture of me and my husband prior to my getting sick. She showed it to my ex-husband -- he said, has your mother been lifting weights? She is BUFF! (trust me -- for him to say anything good, it has to be monumental!) Unfortunately, because it's brain tissue that's been targeted, it is gone. It won't heal, won't regenerate. The best that I can hope for is that MAYBE it can re-route and develop new pathways. It's highly unlikely, because I have yet ANOTHER condition that, under normal circumstances, would require brain surgery, but because I have this, they don't want to risk it. So . . . . I'm kind of stuck. (Sorry for the long explanation, but I don't know a shorter version)

Hoping that Social Security sees it that way, too . . . but you know how that goes . . . . probably not!

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I have a question regarding notifying my employer officially, with a letter from my GI doctor, that I have Celiac Disease.  They want an "outline" of restrictions, if any.  I am concerned that they will try to use it as ammunition to fire me.  I was hired because I have a CDL (commercial truck driver's license) and they think that if I cannot drive the vehicle they can fire me.  I would be required to go out alone and move trailers and hook/unhook trailers, and a host of other duties --we are NOT a trucking company, we do hearing testing.  My wish is to transition into the office and not have to travel or drive any more.  

I do not want to give them a letter from my doctor if they can use it to fire me.  All of that stated: I am not sure I want to work for them at all any longer, HOWEVER, I cannot simply quit my job,  I have no savings and am single, I have no one to provide for me, no pension, etc.  This is very complicated. 

The main thing I want to know is: can they fire me for providing them with a letter that may state that I cannot travel overnight away from home?   

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54 minutes ago, jeanzdyn said:

I have a question regarding notifying my employer officially, with a letter from my GI doctor, that I have Celiac Disease.  They want an "outline" of restrictions, if any.  I am concerned that they will try to use it as ammunition to fire me.  I was hired because I have a CDL (commercial truck driver's license) and they think that if I cannot drive the vehicle they can fire me.  I would be required to go out alone and move trailers and hook/unhook trailers, and a host of other duties --we are NOT a trucking company, we do hearing testing.  My wish is to transition into the office and not have to travel or drive any more.  

I do not want to give them a letter from my doctor if they can use it to fire me.  All of that stated: I am not sure I want to work for them at all any longer, HOWEVER, I cannot simply quit my job,  I have no savings and am single, I have no one to provide for me, no pension, etc.  This is very complicated. 

The main thing I want to know is: can they fire me for providing them with a letter that may state that I cannot travel overnight away from home?   

The way I understand it,  if your job is staying overnight and you no longer can perform that duty  without  "reasonable" accommodations, they can fire you.   You could certainly ask for a transfer to an available job.  You could get a doc to say what accommodations you need.  Perhaps the ability to bring a cooler and stay at hotels with microwaves would work.  That seems "reasonable". 

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