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Found 7 results

  1. Celiac.com 01/04/2016 - Does P.F. Chang's Asian Bistro discriminate against people with celiac disease by charging more for gluten-free dishes than for their non-gluten-free counterparts? A complaint filed in federal court says it does, and a ruling by a federal judge means that the lawsuit against P.F. Chang's over its gluten-free menu won't be dismissed just yet. That means a class action lawsuit against P.F. Chang's for allegedly charging more for gluten-free menu items can continue. Judge Ronald Whyte's Nov. 23 order denied the company's motion to dismiss plaintiff Anna Marie Phillips' first amended complaint. "Neither party has cited, and the court has not found, any case specifically discussing whether celiac disease constitutes a disability under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) or Unruh Act," Whyte wrote in his 13-page ruling. "However, accepting the additional detail in the FAC (first amended complaint) about the consequences of ingesting or being exposed to gluten, which plaintiff must guard against, plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to support her claim that she has a disability that impacts a major life activity. "The court notes that on a more complete factual record, the court might reach a different conclusion." Phillips sued P.F. Chang's in a California state court last December. Chang's then successfully moved the case to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Basically, the outcome of the move to dismiss hinges on whether or not celiac disease constitutes a disability under the state's Unruh Act. In his order last month, Whyte concluded that Phillips, in her new complaint, pled sufficient facts to claim that the immune reaction to eating gluten meets the definition of a "medical condition" under the state's Unruh Act for people with celiac disease. The law specifically outlaws discrimination based on sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, disability, medical condition, marital status or sexual orientation. In her amended complaint, Phillips also claims that celiac disease is an "inheritable and hence genetic characteristic." P.F. Chang's argues that the plaintiff must allege that she actually inherited characteristics known to cause disease under the second prong of the "medical condition" definition. At stake in the lawsuit is whether or not P.F. Chang's, and, by extension, other restaurants can charge more money for gluten-free food than they do for similar, non-gluten-free menu items. The restaurant chain first moved to dismiss Phillips' class action in February, claiming her celiac disease does not make her a disabled person under the ADA. It urged Whyte to dismiss the lawsuit before the entire restaurant industry was impacted. Whyte heard oral arguments in May. According to the case's docket, the motion to dismiss was "tentatively granted" at the hearing, with a final ruling to be issued by the court later. In August, the judge granted P.F. Chang's motion to dismiss Phillips' original complaint. Whyte 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 granted Phillips a leave to amend. In doing so, the judge expressed his "reservations" about whether the plaintiff could ever state a viable claim under her discrimination theory. Phillips filed her first amended complaint soon after. In September, P.F. Chang's filed a motion to dismiss the new complaint, arguing that it asserts the same disability-discrimination claims and offers "few additional facts" and "none that warrant a different result." But a detailed list of Phillips' symptoms and reactions when ingesting gluten forced the judge to change his mind. As to whether or not the lawsuit will gain traction, stay tuned.
  2. 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. Plaintiff 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
  3. Celiac.com 01/11/2016 - Is celiac disease a disability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act? The Department of Justice says not necessarily. On the heels of a federal lawsuit that claiming that restaurants are violating federal disability laws by charging more for gluten-free food than for non-gluten-free counter parts, a Department of Justice spokesperson has stated that a 2012 civil rights settlement on behalf of Lesley University students with celiac disease does not make the condition a disability in all cases. DOJ public affairs specialist, Patrick Rodenbush, said settlement at Leslie University did not set a legal precedent, because the "…settlement enforces the rights of students whose food allergies were disabilities, [but] it doesn't necessarily make celiac disease a disability in all cases." This is relevant to a case in California, where federal judge recently denied a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging P.F. Chang's violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because it charges more for gluten-free items. In the P.F. Chang's case, Judge Ronald Whyte denied P.F. Chang's motion to dismiss because, he wrote, that, although the court had not found specific information proving that celiac disease constituted a disability under the ADA, the "plaintiff has pled sufficient facts to support her claim that she has a disability that impacts a major life activity." Whyte noted "on a more complete factual record, the court might reach a different conclusion." He also stated that it may be difficult, or impossible for Phillips to prove her claims. "The ultimate question is whether P.F. Chang's, in providing gluten-free meals, is providing different products or whether the price differential with regular meals is a pretext for discrimination against those with celiac disease," Whyte wrote. At stake is whether or not food vendors, such as P.F. Chang's can charge higher prices for gluten-free foods than they do for non-gluten-free items. The results of this case are being watched closely by celiacs and by restaurant companies, because a ruling that establishes that people with celiac disease are covered under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act could conceivably have a serious impact on how the restaurant industry approaches gluten-free food. Stay tuned for new developments. Source: legalnewsline.com
  4. I am a nursing student, and my children attend preschool. The preschool uses the college's dining facility to cater all of their meals. I spent time providing a training for the community college's dining facility staff on allergens, cross-contamination, and understanding the importance of strict avoidance for allergic individuals or in celiac disease. There are a number of small children with celiac disease, allergies, and intolerances, whose parents are required to pay the same amount, but do not receive meals, and must send food to school with their children, because the dining facility cannot accommodate. Of course, our family is one of them. My daughter must be gluten and dairy free, while my son is only gluten free. I know that this is somehow illegal, wrong, or unethical, but don't know what steps should be taken. The school claims no responsibility, and will not budge on the payment system to adjust the price for children unable to participate in the meals. The dining facility has claimed for many months that they are working on being able to accommodate, but it was recently revealed that they are actually working on a letter from their attorney to force parents to sign a "release of liability waiver" before serving the allergic children. When I provided the training 4 months ago, all of the staff displayed decent levels of understanding and interest. What can I do to rectify this situation? Who needs to be informed, or who can help "encourage" (force is okay as well, as long as my family doesn't have to get involved in a lawsuit) the preschool to provide an adjusted cost to these families? If the dining facility is requiring a waiver, I am not confident in their ability to prepare, nor determination/dedication to provide "safe" food. (albeit, I understand why) I am the person who initiated the chain of events, and have been pushing everyone along the way to be able to provide "safe" meals for the children, but at this point, I am fed up with everyone involved, particularly the preschool, because they seem to want nothing to do with the situation, and are making me deal directly with their vendor. Advice please?!?! I don't want to ruin our relationship with the preschool, because the teachers are wonderful and my kids really enjoy it there... but for the sake of my family and many other current and future families... I don't want to just look the other way!
  5. Celiac.com 02/08/2013 - In an article for Fox News, Hans von Spakovsky, a senior fellow at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, ridicules the idea that the Department of Justice (DoJ) should use its weight to force colleges and universities to accommodate students with food allergies under the Americans with Disabilities Act. At issue is a settlement the DoJ obtained with Lesley University in Massachusetts, which had allegedly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not adequately accommodating students with food allergies. Under the settlement agreement with the DoJ, Lesley University will pay $50,000, offer meals that do not contain “egg, wheat, shellfish, fish, soy, peanut, tree-nut products, and other potential allergens," prepare the food in a dedicated area, and to allow students to pre-order their special meals, among other requirements. In the view of von Spakovsky, the agreement amounts to "extortion" by the the DoJ. He calls the "idea that this is a federal issue, or that the Justice Department should burn its resources investigating food preparation in university dining halls…a complete absurdity." He goes onto call the DOJ's efforts at Lesley a "dish-hunt [which] exemplifies mindless mission creep and the bloated expansion of the federal nanny state." What do you think? Do you have children or loved ones with celiac disease, especially of college age? Should celiac disease be considered a disability? Do they deserve gluten-free food options at school? Should the government pressure schools that either can't or won't act on their own? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below. Click here to read Hans von Spakovsky's full article, ridiculing efforts by the federal government to use the Americans with Disabilities Act to pressure colleges to accommodate students with food allergies.
  6. Celiac.com 11/19/2013 - There's an interesting take on the precedent-setting ruling issued early in 2013 by the U.S. Justice Department, which found that celiac disease and other serious food allergies and sensitivities can be considered disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ruling arises from a settlement between the Justice Department and Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts that came after Justice investigated the university in response to a student complaint that the school’s mandatory meal plan did not provide sufficient gluten-free food alternatives, and that the school did not accommodate the needs of those on gluten-free diets by excusing their participation in the meal plan or providing a reasonable alternative. The ruling has led a number of colleges and universities with student meal programs to make efforts to offer suitable options for students with celiac disease and other serious food allergies. However, Janet Raasch, points out in a blog entry on lawyers.com that the ruling applies more broadly to schools and restaurants at large. Raasch says that "…schools, restaurants and other places that serve food can be exposed to legal challenges if they fail to honor requests for accommodations by people with celiac disease." It's important to remember that Ms. Raasch is not a lawyer. So, while she has an interesting take, and it remains to be seen if gluten-free options become more numerous partly out of a push for restaurants and other food service establishments to follow in the footsteps of colleges and universities with student meal programs. What do you think will be the impact if schools, restaurants and food purveyors treat celiac and other food allergies as an ADA disability? Will it mean more gluten-free options? Better standards? Share your comments below. Source: blogs.lawyers.com Post by Janet Raasch
  7. For those of you who work with this, how do you do it?? I was diagnosed 6 months ago and while it has gotten easier it's still not easy. Tuesday night I ate something, I suspect the scoop of gluten free gelato I ate, wasn't. I couldn't get out of bed until 6:00PM on Wednesday, and it was noon today. When I get glutened I'm just flattened, I can't do anything else. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for as long as 5 days. I'm sure I don't have to explain that to anyone here. I had to call into work the last two days. I'm trying to work from home now but my head is in a fog. I have neurological problems with this and sometimes I have a hard time focusing or just can't seem to get myself to care about work. I keep wondering if I should look into my disability benefits or consider a career change. Something less performance based with more flexible hours maybe. It's weird to even think about doing that, I've always loved working and have worked a lot of long hard hours. I just don't feel like I have it in me anymore. I've wondered about taking short term disability too, maybe just for a few weeks to try and reset. I don't know. Up until 2 months ago I wasn't sure I could maintain my job at all, I was failing miserably. I don't know if it will still get better from here or if this is the best it's going to get. I'm a divorced Mom so I don't have the option to stay home, I have to work. I work 8:00 - 5:00 and some mornings just waking up is a big accomplishment. It has been a struggle to get there by 8:00 most days. That has improved lately as my glutenings are getting further apart. I get 15 days of vacation each year and I'm hording them because I'm so afraid I'm going to need them for sick days ( I'll have to use 2 this week ). What I really need is to take an actual vacation and to go to the beach. Right now I'm trying to work and all I really want to do is go crawl back into bed and sleep this off. Help, wondering how others cope.