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IS A FOOD ALLERGY (SUCH AS GLUTEN-INTOLERANCE) A DISABILITY?

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SETTLES GLUTEN-INTOLERANT STUDENTS’ CLAIMS AGAINST UNIVERSITY FOR DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), it is illegal discrimination for a place of public accommodation (including a university) to fail to make reasonable accommodations for the disabilities of its patrons (or students).  The same is true under the Maine Human Rights Act and other states’ disability rights laws.  Some types of reasonable accommodations are quite obvious; for example, restaurants must provide wheelchair access and handicapped restrooms.  A recent settlement between the Lesley University in Massachusetts and the United States government shows that the accommodations requirement of disabilities laws may also extend to food menu offerings. In 2009, students from Lesley University in Massachusetts filed a charge of discrimination under the ADA, alleging that the university failed to make reasonable accommodations, with respect to meal plans and menu choices, to students with a disability in the form of a food allergy – gluten intolerance.  Gluten is a common food allergy which can manifest into celiac disease in some people.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder “that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy.  The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats.”  See Celiac Disease Definition, U.S. Nat’l Library of Medicine, Nat’l Inst. of Health, A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia (Jan. 20, 2010), available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001280.  Symptoms of celiac disease vary greatly and can include anything from abdominal pain to seizures.  The condition can also lead to malnutrition.  Other types of food allergies, such...

MAINE WEDDINGS: THE LEGAL ISSUES OF MARRIAGES

MAINE WEDDINGS:  THE LEGAL ISSUES OF MARRIAGES Like everything else, Maine weddings have certain legal requirements that engaged couples should consider as part of their planning (OK, not the most exciting or fun part of the planning!).  But knowing the legalities of getting married and the requirements for a marriage license well before the wedding will be one less thing to worry about as the big day approaches! Step 1:  Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement? A prenuptial agreement is a contract that couples may enter into before they are married, to set forth such things as how the couple’s assets will be divided upon divorce, and how much spousal support a partner may pay as part of any future divorce settlement.  Although it may seem somewhat less than romantic to be discussing, even before the wedding, what will happen in the event of a divorce, prenuptial agreements can minimize financial risk and can simplify the divorce process in the event the marriage does not work.  Prenuptials are especially important for couples entering a marriage in unequal financial positions. Prenuptial agreements are not exclusively for divorce pre-planning; the bride and groom can also use a prenuptial agreement to establish financial plans and practices that they will observe in their future marriage, including money management, occupational goals, and budgetary policies. Generally speaking, the more assets one has to protect, the more likely it is that a prenuptial agreement should be considered.  A couple should speak with an attorney or financial professional about the need and benefits of a prenuptial agreement.  Attorney Molly Watson Shukie can assist in drafting a prenuptial agreement that conforms to the parties’ needs. Step 2:  The Marriage License A couple will need a...