Peanut Allergy at Work

Posted on: Tue, 12/09/2014 - 3:21am
Portll2's picture
Joined: 12/09/2014 - 10:11

Hello. My daughter now 17 is working part time at our local library. Her employer is unwilling to make any accomodations in regard to her peanut allergy. Is there any legal course of action we can take or make known to them so that they will make reasonable accomodations? The library recently hosted a "light up night" where they had a multitude of nut cookies throughout different places in the library. Patrons of the library were eating the cookies throughout. My daughter was working that night and ended up having to epi and go to the er. She asked for an accomodation that when the library director is aware of such activities they remove her from the schedule that day so that she can avoid having a reaction. They will not do this and told her that it's not their job and she needs to take ownership of her allergy and when events are happening at the library that she feels at risk during - she will need to find her own replacement for that shift. Anyone out there know if there is anything we can do? She needs this job to help pay for college in the fall and really doesn't want to quit. Thanks in advance. Luci

Posted on: Wed, 12/10/2014 - 7:08am
Katethegreat's picture
Joined: 07/25/2013 - 08:58

Food allergies are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act, you should definitely contact a lawyer and inform the employer that refusal to accommodate her is in direct violation of the ADA and will be held responsible for all legal fees should the matter be brought to court.

Posted on: Thu, 12/11/2014 - 12:39am's picture
Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, answers one of the questions posted in our community.
Our Answer:
Hello! We are so sorry to hear about your daughter’s unfortunate situation at work. Hopefully we can give you some tips! She shouldn’t have to quit her job in order to be safe.
People with food allergies have the right to request a safe work environment if there are conditions that exclude or disadvantage them. The American Disabilities Act protects the rights of employees with disabilities, including allergies and asthma. Here is some more information about legal action. It may also be helpful to find a free legal advice hotline. Many law schools have them!
Employers need to make “reasonable accommodations” for their employees. A few other members of our community have discussed this before, and maybe you can find some helpful tips here. Some employers have been very helpful, and others have been more of a challenge. It is best to be clear with an employer about food allergies from the beginning. Here are some more tips on how to handle work situations.
“Reasonable accommodations” can be prohibiting other employees from bringing specific foods to work, restricting areas where such foods can be consumed, or allowing employees with allergies to eat at their desks. You can read more about accommodations here.
Schools can be reasonably safe places, but sometimes people forget that adults also suffer from food allergies, and many people don’t take them seriously. Here is a brief news report about adults with peanut allergies in the workplace.
We asked our Facebook followers for advice, as well, and you can read what they had to say here.
We wish you the best of luck and hope your daughter can work something out with her place of employment!

Posted on: Sun, 12/14/2014 - 3:19am
josiepie's picture
Joined: 03/06/2010 - 18:08

First of all, as a librarian and mother of an allergic child, I am appalled at the library's reaction. Keeping their employees safe is not their job? Honestly? It goes to show how much they care about their employees... I am really sorry your daughter had a reaction. It must have been quite scary and I absolutely understand how angry you must be.
This said, it is not unheard of for a part time clerk (which I assume your daughter is) to find their own replacement when they know in advance that they cannot make it to work. It is usually much easier on everyone and much faster, as the kids know their own schedule and it is easier for them to switch shifts between eachother than having a supervisor call up everyone and try to match two people who can switch. What I would do if I were you would be to talk to your daughter's supervisor and make it clear that she cannot, under any circumstance, work with her allergen around and ask that she be given a few weeks' notice before a special event involving her allergen takes place. If they don't (or won't) understand, you can tell them that if they make her work but she has to go to the er, they will still be short one employee as she won't be there but at the hospital.
Good luck. I hope they will understand that your daughter's safety is a priority.

Posted on: Sun, 12/14/2014 - 5:20am
MadelynesMom's picture
Joined: 12/03/2012 - 14:51

Wow, I am constantly amazed at how ignorant and rude some people and organizations can be. I am quite shocked they actually get away with this type of insensitive behavior. Absolutely unacceptable. That person should be fired immediately. I would love to know where that library is located to be sure we do not go there. Think of the food crumbs smeared on books, etc. Not only is that a danger to your daughter, but also others with sensitive food allergies.

Posted on: Tue, 01/06/2015 - 12:18pm
Supermom1997's picture
Joined: 01/03/2015 - 13:49

This seems like a workman's comp issue. This ER visit was caused by her employer. If it has not been a long time, (months?) you should report to the hospital that this visit was workman's comp. Also, aren't public libraries funded or run by the city or county? They are a government entity. You should file a complaint with the city or county regarding reimbursement for the epipen and the ER visit. That will get their attention. I'm am so sorry that this had to happen to her. My son is 17 and is allergic to peanuts also.

Posted on: Tue, 01/13/2015 - 8:25am
LGriffin1's picture
Joined: 09/06/2012 - 10:45

It is a workmans comp issue. I had my HR person check into this for me shortly after I started. While my coworkers are great, I work in a retail location and we cannot control the toddler that needs to eat and all mom packed was nuts. The hospital billing needs to be alerted and in her case a workmans comp and incident report should have filed. This will generate a case number that is needed for billing. Using a 504 plan is a good basis to build a what if plan. Most of my coworkers and all my managers know that I have a card in my Epi pen case to give EMTs since I have extra issues.

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