It’s no joke to those who suffer from allergies to peanuts and other nuts. But is such an allergy a disability for which a restaurant chef can allege discrimination?
In a strange case arising in the UK, it appears that a chef in an historic 14th century inn developed an allergy to nuts so severe that “he nearly died after being rushed to hospital after coming in contact with peanuts. … the smell and touch of all types of nuts made him ill and caused a skin disorder.”
The news report was a little incomplete and confusing, but it seems that the chef apparently developed the allergy after he became employed (he was employed for 10 years), and that he must have been terminated since (we speculate) he could not be accommodated by the restaurant.
The Employment Tribunal apparently ruled that the allergy to nuts was, in fact, a disability which affected the chef’s major life activities – his diet has had to be changed, he also has to be careful when shopping for food and preparing it, and his social life has been restricted. The Court ruled that the chef could seek compensation for disability discrimination at a full hearing later this year.
We do not doubt the reality of this poor chef’s medical condition, but we are forced to ask: can a chef who is allergic to food be accommodated in a restaurant?