Peanut allergies seem to be the source of many headlines these days, as well they should. Peanut allergies are extremely serious and can result in anaphylactic shock, which is an oftentimes fatal reaction to an allergen. Parents of kids with allergies understand the severity of an allergy and the importance of taking precautionary measures to prevent exposure. Others, however, either do not understand the life-or-death aspect of certain allergies or write off a parent’s concerns completely. While both groups pose a threat to children and adults with severe allergies, it is the latter group that should be legally condemned for their actions or inactions—especially when that latter group is a school, principal, or administrator.
In 2013, a Michigan couple filed a lawsuit against their son’s school over how teachers and administrators both mocked their son and implemented a food allergy safety plan. According to the allegations, students and staff ridiculed their son because of his allergies and accused him of being the reason that they could not have certain treats at school. The lawsuit cited the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendment.
In 2014, a Tennessee couple filed a lawsuit against their 7-year-old daughter’s school, contending that not only was their daughter ridiculed and bullied by students and staff for her allergies but also, that the school denied the parents the opportunity to educate other parents. After the parents approached the school about its mistreatment, a complaint against the family was filed with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services accusing the parents of “Munchausen by Proxy,” a disorder that causes a parent to fake or exaggerate a child’s illness. The complaint was unfounded, and the allergy case was ongoing at the time of the report.
Under both state and federal law, schools and day care facilities must accommodate children with food allergies and strive to minimize the potential for a severe allergic reaction. Two such laws that protect students’ rights are the ADA and the ADAAA (Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act). Under both these acts, childcare centers and schools are prohibited from discriminating against any individual with a disability, including food allergy sufferers.
Moreover, schools are required to assist in the creation of 504 plans, which are designed to help identify a child’s allergens and outline a plan that ensures the ongoing safety of all children in the school environment. Unfortunately, not every school participates in the creation of these plans, and they are the very schools that find themselves the target of allergy-driven lawsuits.
As the parent of a child with food allergies, you know just how severe an allergic reaction can be. You also understand that strict accommodations can mean the difference between life and death. If your child’s school has failed to implement proper safety procedures or accommodations for your child, it could be in violation of your child’s rights. Contact the Chicago children’s injuries lawyers at Michael T. Friedman & Associates to discuss your legal options and, if injuries have already occurred, possible remedies today.
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