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U.S. Department of Justice Agreement with Lesley University

This landmark case set important precedent for the rights of students with food allergies and celiac disease in a higher education setting.

In December 2012, the first food allergy-related settlement in higher education under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was reached between Lesley University in Massachusetts and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The agreement ensures that students with food allergies and celiac disease can fully access the university’s meal plans and food services. In its press release, the DOJ noted that food allergies may constitute a disability under the ADA and that this is an issue colleges and universities nationwide need to consider. Under the settlement, Lesley University agreed to improve its practices in order for students with celiac disease and food allergies to obtain safe and nutritional foods, and also agreed to pay $50,000 in compensatory damages to previously identified students who have celiac disease or food allergies.

This settlement is likely to prompt colleges and universities to take a look at their own procedures to ensure they are implementing the proper protocols that will enable students with food allergies to have a safe college experience. Additional information can be found here:

Department of Justice’s Questions and Answers About the Lesley University Agreement and Potential Implications for Individuals with Food Allergies

In 2018, DOJ released a new settlement with Rider University that reinforces the Lesley case.

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