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Learn how the law protects people with food allergies from discrimination—and what to do if your rights – or a loved one’s rights – have been violated.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations (e.g., restaurants, hotels, theaters, retail stores, museums, libraries), commercial facilities (e.g., privately- owned office building, factories, warehouses), and transportation (with the exception of commercial airplanes, which are covered under the Air Carrier Access Act).

Under the ADA, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of an individual. Major life activities include, but are not limited to, eating and breathing, and affect your heart and circulatory system, eating and your digestive system, breathing and your respiratory system, and more. All of these life activities are at risk for a person with a life-threatening food allergy. 

If you believe your rights or those of a loved one have been violated under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you can file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice.

FARE is a patient advocacy organization and is neither able nor qualified to provide legal advice. In addition, FARE cannot intervene in individual cases or recommend specific legal counsel.

For legal advice and resources, The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States. The NDRN works to improve the lives of people with disabilities by guarding against abuse; advocating for basic rights; and ensuring accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems. To find resources in your area, visit their website and click on your state.

Disability Questions or Complaints

With laws in place to protect students with food allergies and ensure they have a safe and inclusive environment in the school setting, FARE strongly encourages parents of children with food allergies to understand know how to best advocate for necessary accommodations.

Several resources are available for helping parents, educators, administrators and healthcare professionals understand the laws in place for protecting the rights of students with food allergies. These can be found on our website in our Back to School Headquarters.

As a patient advocacy organization, FARE works to provide helpful information to parents and school personnel about how to support students with food allergies and their need access their education safely and inclusively. It is important to note, however, that FARE is not an oversight organization, and we are unable to enforce compliance with Section 504 or ADA, or intervene in individual cases.

If you are in need of civil rights or disability accommodation assistance, have a technical question about these disability laws, or wish to file a complaint, we advise you to contact the appropriate governing organization.

For public, federally funded schools:

For private institutions (including daycare centers and colleges)

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