The family of an 11-year-old Maryland boy with a gluten allergy is suing Colonial Williamsburg, saying the Virginia historic attraction refused to allow their child to eat a homemade chicken sandwich inside their restaurant during a 2017 school field trip.
The suit, which was originally shot down in district court, was given the green light last week when the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the case can be decided by a jury, NBC’s “Today” show reported.
The family’s lawsuit alleges that Colonial Williamsburg violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when their child, identified only as J.D., was forced to eat his homemade lunch outside of Shields Tavern after they were told consuming outside food in Virginia restaurants is considered a health-code violation.
As an alternative, the restaurant offered to make J.D. a gluten-free meal of baked chicken and potatoes. But citing bad experiences with gluten-free promises at restaurants in the past, the family declined.
A study published in April by the American Journal of Gastroenterology found nearly one-third of restaurant food labeled gluten-free, actually contains gluten.
But the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation stood by their gluten-free accommodations, telling “Today” in statement, “We have a long and successful track record of preparing gluten-free meals for our guests and believe doing so is a reasonable accommodation, as noted by the dissenting judge.”
J.D.’s doctor testified the child’s gluten-free diet is “medically necessary” – and cited a family history of celiac disease.
When the boy had consumed gluten, he suffered from constipation, stomach pain and other symptoms — which led his family to cut out gluten from his diet, according to court documents obtained by “Today.”
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