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University to Pay $50K to Settle Claim Student Meals Without Food-Allergy Options Violated ADA

Posted Jan 10, 2013 5:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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There's no word on whether some Lesley University students with food allergies might be headed to law school.

But they've clearly demonstrated an aptitude for for legal issues by spearheading an unusual civil rights case pursued as an administrative complaint by the U.S. Department of Justice. It resulted in a Dec. 20 settlement (PDF) in which the Cambridge, Mass., university, among other measures, agreed to pay $50,000 to resolve claims that it had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by serving meals to students that didn't accommodate food allergies, NPR reports.

The groundbreaking case essentially puts food allergies in the same category as wheelchair ramps and other mechanical barriers to access, the artlcle points out.

"By not accommodating food allergies, you're barring students from participating in the university," said attorney Maria Acebal, who represents the Food Allergy Research & Education advocacy group. "If you can't get safe food, how can you study there?"

Hat tip: Reuters.

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