The Americans with Disabilities Act includes certain provisions that provide protection for those with food allergies. Though certain accommodations are not required by all businesses and public facilities, keeping individuals safe while allowing them to participate in activities, particularly educational opportunities, is required as part of the law.
Allergies and the ADA
The ADA protects the rights of disabled individuals. Unfortunately, not all public facilities are aware that specific provisions exist within the ADA that are specific to individuals with allergies. When access to public services and programs are denied to individuals because of a disability, it is considered unlawful. This includes individuals who have severe allergies to specific foods, like celiac disease or peanut and tree nut allergies along with those allergic to insect stings. While places like restaurants are not required to serve only food that is free of allergens, accommodations are required by schools and daycare centers who serve food.
Schools and 504 Plans
According to federal law, students who have severe health- or life-threatening allergies cannot be excluded from educational services on the sole basis of their allergy. Facilities must take appropriate measures to prepare themselves in the event of an allergic reaction. A food allergy is considered a disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Educational facilities use 504 Plans to outline the necessary accommodations, services and aids that a student may need to allow their full participation in public education.
The number of children who have been diagnosed with peanut and tree nut allergies has more than tripled in the past 15 years. Severe gluten, milk and egg allergies are also on the rise. For some, allergic reactions can considerably impact their health and may even be life-threatening. These reactions often require immediate medical intervention so it is important that certain preventative and treatment procedures are in place wherever.
For the purpose of public schooling, certain allergies are considered legal disabilities. If a school receives federal funding, they are required to make accommodations for students with allergies. This may include providing a separate eating area, developing special safety policies or receiving training in the use of certain medications like epinephrine injectors. A disability lawyer in Chicago can provide additional information regarding required accommodations and the benefits that are available to those with life-altering disabilities.