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Is A Food Allergy Considered A Disability

How Do I Start The 504 Plan Process

Webinar: COVID-19 vaccines and food allergy: What to know about vaccines for children and teens

Contact the school principal and the school districts 504 coordinator in writing about your childs food allergy. Ask to have your child evaluated for eligibility for a 504 plan. Once they decide your child is eligible, ask for a meeting to start creating a plan.

The goal of the plan is to ensure your childs health and manage their food allergies while at school. So youll want to try to do this well before the beginning of the school year. This way the plan can be in place before your child sets foot on campus.

Approach the school with a positive tone. Think of yourself as part of the team that will work together to keep your child safe at school. Communicate often, calmly, and with confidence.

Guidance For Accommodating An Employees Request

  • Allow the employee to eat at their desk or allow extra time during their lunch break to go home and eat.
  • Permit the employee to have a flexible schedule so that they may work when less people are in the office in order to reduce exposure or allow the employee to work from home.
  • Relocate the employees workspace to reduce possibility of exposure to certain foods.
  • Restrict certain foods in the workplace overall. Send a memo to staff to notify them of the restriction and place signs at the entrances of your business so that others know not to bring those foods into the building.
  • If you have received a request for a food allergy accommodation from an employee and need assistance determining if the request can reasonably be accommodated, the HR experts at BCN Services can help. Contact us here or call us at 1-800-891-9911.

    Does The Ada Apply To People With Asthma And Allergies

    Yes. In both the ADA and Section 504, a person with a disability is someone who has a physical or mental impairment that seriously limits one or more major life activities, or who is regarded as having such impairments. Asthma and allergies are usually considered disabilities under the ADA.

    Major life activities include:

    • Working
    • Going to school

    In 2008, the ADA was changed to include more people in the definition of disabled. Conditions that only show symptoms at certain times are now included. Asthma and allergies fit this definition. The ADA protects people with asthma and allergies even if reactions or attacks happen only when triggered. The ADA can help to create an environment where patients can avoid their triggers.

    Also, use of medical aids or devices can no longer exclude them from ADA coverage. For example, it used to be that people with asthma who got relief from an inhaler were not covered by the ADA. The inhaler was thought to have removed the disability. With the 2008 changes, the ADA covers people with asthma and allergies even if medication controls their symptoms.

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    A New Mandate For Food Service

    The Lesley case was prompted by students who objected to the schools mandatory meal plan when a student suffers from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eating most traditionally prepared food results in severe and ongoing health problems.

    Rather than simply removing the mandate to buy the on-campus dining plan and make it optional, the school agreed to a settlement that goes far beyond giving students an out and chooses to actively serve their dietary needs. Under the agreement, Lesley now will provide gluten-free food options in the dining halls, allow students to pre-order food, address cross-contamination concerns, and train their staff about food allergies.

    But the ripple effects could reach much further. As reported by AP, the decision leaves schools, restaurants, and other places that serve food more exposed to legal challenges if they fail to honor requests for accommodations by people with food allergies.

    Helpful decision or nanny-state overreach?

    Reactions have varied from cheers to disgust. Not surprisingly, the gluten-free community responded positively. The decision sets a precedent, says Rachel Begun, RD, Delicious Living advisory board member and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It gives a voice to college students suffering from celiac disease and food allergies and provides foodservice providers with minimum guidelines for how to prepare and serve safe food.

    Severe Nut Allergies Are A Disability

    Disability Benefits

    The internet was buzzing recently with an article from stating that the Oak Ridge School in Massachusetts considers severe nut allergies a disability.

    Like many schools across the county, Oak Ridge is dealing with food allergic children and trying to keep them safe while at the same time deal with outraged parents over a nut ban.

    The Massachusetts Department of Education published a series of Guidelines for managing food allergies in schools several years ago, however they are guidelines and not required policy. This leaves many schools in Massachusetts, as well as other states, grasping at straws to find a solution that pleases both sides.

    Under Section 504 law, it clearly states that no child should be discriminated against due to a disability and that he or she should receive an equal education to that of his peers. To determine disability, a life function must be affected such as breathing in the case of anaphylaxis and asthma. Life threatening food allergies are also covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    This isn’t new news, but with the rise in food allergy diagnosis and students entering schoolsmany school districts are realizing they need to act quick not only to keep food allergic children safe, but to avoid breaking the law.

    The full referenced article can be found at the following link:

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    Disability Questions Or Complaints

    With laws in place to protect students with food allergies and ensure they have a safe and inclusive environment in the school setting, FARE strongly encourages parents of children with food allergies to understand know how to best advocate for necessary accommodations.

    Several resources are available for helping parents, educators, administrators and healthcare professionals understand the laws in place for protecting the rights of students with food allergies. These can be found on our website in our Back to School Headquarters.

    As a patient advocacy organization, FARE works to provide helpful information to parents and school personnel about how to support students with food allergies and their need access their education safely and inclusively. It is important to note, however, that FARE is not an oversight organization, and we are unable to enforce compliance with Section 504 or ADA, or intervene in individual cases.

    If you are in need of civil rights or disability accommodation assistance, have a technical question about these disability laws, or wish to file a complaint, we advise you to contact the appropriate governing organization.

    For public, federally funded schools:

    Your Allergies Disability Case

    If you are able to meet a listing precisely, then it is unlike your claim will be denied. If however you are applying for benefits with the idea that an RFC evaluation will show you are eligible due to anaphylaxis risks, it is much more likely that you will need to file appeals after you are initially found ineligible for benefits by the SSA.

    Consulting with an attorney or Social Security advocate prior to filing your claim may increase your chances of being approved. Someone more familiar with handling applications based on severe allergies can help you collect the appropriate medical and other evidence to support your argument that you are unable to work.

    When it is time to file for benefits, keep in mind that there are two programs for which you may qualify:

    • Social Security Disability Insurance , for which you can apply via the SSAs website or in your local SSA office.
    • AND

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    What Constitutes Disability

    But people with “traditional” and physically visible disabilities may disagree. On January 25, a article by Alice G. Walton quoted bioethicist Dan OConnor, PhD, on the question of what defines disability:

    One school of thought is that its your body thats disabled you. If you cant walk and use a wheelchair, its your legs that disable you, for example. But the newer thinking is that its not your body that disables you, its the environment around you. Thats a much more interesting way to look at disability. So the onus isnt on the disabled person, its on the environment and on all of us. Whos really disabled? The traditionally disabled may worry that political gains theyve made will be left behind.

    Citizen comments on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere reacting to the DOJ decision include the following:

    For those of us who deal with food allergies, sensitivities, and celiac, this case may fall into the theres no such thing as bad publicity category. Many people still dont understand the seriousness and pervasiveness of food intolerances. Clearly, the Lesley University outcome will raise the awareness factor, and it remains to be seen how it impacts business and manufacturers alike.

    Whats your opinion: Is “disability” too strong a category for food intolerance? What’s a reasonable expectation for places that serve food?

    How The Ada Can Help

    Lesson 1: What is a food allergy? Allergy Adventures Workshop for schools

    If you have asthma or allergies, the ADA can help you feel safe and healthier when you work, shop, go to school, or eat. Under the ADA, a business canât deny you if youâre qualified because of your allergies or asthma. Instead, they will need to provide an allergy-friendly lunchroom or work environment.

    Public and nonreligious private schools also must create friendly environments that are free of asthma or allergy triggers. Even if the school doesnât get funds from the government, they must follow the ADA.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act calls a change made to make you more comfortable an accommodation. You and the people in your space will work together to make a shift that best fits your well-being.

    An accommodation may include a workspace reorganization to get rid of things youâre allergic to, lower triggers like odors, or replace old carpets. But organizations donât need to make a change that causes a huge alteration.

    For example, if the company doesnât have enough money to support your change or it would drastically adjust the way it does business, you wouldnât be able to ask for it to accommodate you in that way. But your company must make a strong effort to help you stay comfortable before it denies your request. The only way a business can deny your accommodation is if it has considered all options first.

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    Do I Have To Get A 504 Plan In Writing

    You do not have to get your childs 504 plan in writing. But it is best to have a written plan. This can reduce mistakes or misunderstandings. Make sure all staff members who interact with your child have a copy of the written plan. This includes classroom teachers, substitute teachers, other teachers , custodians, and lunchroom staff. Only the 504 coordinator and the parents need to sign the written plan.

    How Does The Ada Work

    The ADA helps people with asthma and allergies create safer, healthier environments where they work, shop and eat. It also helps people who attend public schools and non-religious private schools, even if those schools do not receive federal funding. For example, a private preschool may have to allow a child to use a quick-relief asthma inhaler during the day. Or, a company cannot refuse to hire a qualified person with food allergies because they may have to make the lunchroom allergy friendly.

    In most cases, everyone works together to improve conditions and promote equal access and include those with disabilities. This is called an accommodation. Accommodations are made on an individual basis because the needs of each person vary depending upon the situation.

    Examples of accommodations could include:

    • Reorganizing work spaces to reduce odors
    • Restricting the use of allergens in classrooms
    • Removing old carpet

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    Introduction To Food Allergies

    Food is an important part of our work culture. We celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions by coming together with our colleagues for a potluck meal and dessert. We meet customers at restaurants to network and seal the deal. We attend conferences and eat the lunch that is included in the registration fee. All of these things can affect the environment in which we work if we are one of the 15 million Americans who have food allergies.i

    A food allergy is a medical condition in which exposure to a food triggers a harmful immune response. An immune response occurs when the immune system views normally harmless proteins in the food as intruders and attacks. These proteins are called allergens. The eight major food allergens milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish result in most of the serious food allergy reactions in the United States. In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause anaphylactic shock, difficulty swallowing or breathing, asthma, and death.ii

    Episode : Food Allergies And The Rights Of Individuals With Allergy

    Can Eczema Be Considered a Disability?

    Corinne Gilliam – Disability Services Specialist, Vanderbilt University Pamela Williamson – Assistant Project Director, Southeast ADA Center

    A food allergy may be considered a disability under federal laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act . A disability as defined by the ADA is a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, such as eating. Major life activities also include major bodily functions, such as the functions of the gastrointestinal system. Some individuals with food allergies have a disability as defined by ADA, particularly those with more significant or severe responses to certain foods.

    Join us as Pamela Williamson shares her personal story regarding food allergies and provides recommendations regarding requesting accommodations. In addition, Corinne Gilliam, Disability Services Specialist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, discusses how Vanderbilt University addresses food allergies and discusses how the settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Lesley University in Massachusetts helped to increase awareness among higher education professionals that food allergies and celiac disease may qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act .

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    Are Asthma And Allergies Disabilities

    Has a preschool rejected your child? Or was your child left out of a field trip because a teacher was afraid to use an epinephrine auto-injector? Does a moldy carpet at work or school make you sick? Does stale smoke in offices, hotel rooms or conference centers make it hard for you to work?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law. It gives people with disabilities the right to ask for changes where policies, practices or conditions leave you out or put you at a disadvantage. Public companies and places must give people with disabilities full access to all facilities, programs, goods and services. They must also give them the chance to enjoy these places and services just like someone without disabilities.

    The ADA borrows from Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The Rehabilitation Act says agencies, programs and services that receive federal money cannot discriminate based on disability when it comes to jobs or education.

    This includes public accommodations, such as:

    • Restaurants
    • Non-religious private schools
    • Child care programs

    These places must be accessible to and usable by those with disabilities. No one can be left out or denied services because of a disability. They also cannot be left out due to ignorance, attitudes or stereotypes others may have about disabilities.

    How I Crushed My Food Allergies To Thrive

    New Book, NUT JOB: How I Crushed My Food Allergies To ThriveHighlights Holistic Healing as a Path for Food Allergy Sufferers

    Available on

    For most of my life Ive had a love/hate relationship with food. Coming from a big Indian family of foodies, we are about cooking up amazing flavors and sharing them with great friends over even greater conversation. This was the story of our lives as my parents were king and queen of dinner parties. That all changed when I was diagnosed with severe food allergies, environmental allergies, and asthma at the age of three. My immigrant parents needed to find a new way of cooking, and eating, and keeping me alive.

    Over the past four decades, Ive almost died multiple times due to my food allergies. In 2008, when I found myself back again on the emergency room table in severe anaphylaxis for a fourth time, it was officially my rock bottom. I felt that I was managing my food allergies wrong. I felt that I was doing life wrong. It was at that time I knew I had to change everything because I may not get another shot at life.

    With a fire finally lit in my soul, I completely dissected and transformed my health, and created Three To Be, a holistic healing program that I exhaustively researched and developed for 10 years, and through which I reclaimed my health and transformed my life.

    Heres an excerpt from NUT JOB: How I Crushed My Food Allergies To Thrive:

    Milk: 6.1 million Soy: 1.9 million Sesame: 0.7 million

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    Dont Be Afraid To Speak Up

    The ADA prohibits retaliation, harassment or coercion against people who exercise their rights or assist others in doing so. You may file a complaint with the DOJ if you feel you have been treated unfairly. The DOJ can sue to seek money damages and civil penalties in cases of general public importance, or where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination. You can find a list of all government agencies that handle ADA complaints at .

    You can also file a private suit to get a court order requiring a business or program to make necessary changes and possibly to pay attorneys fees. You might also be able to get your job back and get back pay.

    Let us work together to promote positive attitudes and safe environments for those with asthma and allergies. We can help fulfill the promise of the ADA for ourselves and our children.

    Legal Review March 2016


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