First, in case anyone chooses to only read a small portion of this (as it seems most people do with a lot of things on the internet), I'd like to summarize what I believe is the point of the article. The PF Chang's case was ultimately dismissed. This was not a statement that celiac disease is not a disability, but rather that gluten-free menu items are not the same as other menu items. Restaurants have the right to charge what they determine is appropriate for items. The end of the article states the following:
Still reading? Here's a little more of the nitty gritty along with my opinions.
Is this fair? I guess it depends on how you look at it. Would you rather have options and pay a little bit extra, or would you rather not have the options at all? Of course restaurants could choose to provide gluten free options for the same price as their regular menu items, but it does ultimately cost them more to ensure you receive a truly gluten free meal. Regular menu items can simply be prepared. Gluten free items usually require one person follow the meal from start to finish. They must use a dedicated area and/or ensure the preparation and cooking areas are clean and free of any sort of contamination. Think about what is necessary for a friend or family member to prepare food that is safe for you to consume--now think about how many people simply aren't willing to go to the extra effort. Do you blame restaurants for not offering options or for needing to charge extra?
So what does all this have to do with the case involving the Lesley University settlement? It really doesn't have a lot to do with it except that the PF Chang's case was filed with the Lesley University case as a legal precedent.
“The Lesley University settlement enforces the rights of students whose food allergies were disabilities,” Rodenbush said. “It doesn’t necessarily make celiac disease a disability in all cases.”Ultimately, someone attending a university that requires students to purchase a meal plan must accommodate an individuals need for a safe gluten free meal. On the other hand, a restaurant does not have to accommodate an individual choosing to eat there. If a restaurant chooses to make options available, they have every right to charge extra if necessary. If a consumer does not want to pay extra, they have the option of choosing to eat elsewhere. No one is forcing them to eat there. In the case of the student with a meal plan, they were being forced as part of a policy.
In my opinion, if the plaintiff had won this case, it would have opened the door for additional lawsuits against restaurants that don't have any gluten free options. While it would be nice to be able to eat anywhere, it's simply not feasible (at least not right now). Do we really want the whole world to hate the gluten free community because we're demanding options that could potentially cause restaurants to close because they aren't equipped to accommodate us?
So, is celiac disease a disability? Based on this decision, the judge ruled that it is not a disability in all cases. I'm trying to think of similar examples pertaining to other disabilities where accommodations in all situations. I'd like to ask my readers for examples you can think of--when is a disability not a disability in the eyes of the law?
**quoted information is from this link also linked above
ETA: My husband thought of a potential example: restaurants are not required to include braille on their menus for the blind. Is this a time when needs don't have to be accommodated?