School hit with €3.5 thousand penalty for discrimination due to nut allergy

IFAN welcomes the judgement of November 11th 2019 by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that a pupil with food allergies was discriminated against by a school’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations to attend a school trip and that other options were not explored to assist travel and partake in an exchange programme.

This is the second such case in recent years in Ireland where a school’s independent approach to a food allergic child’s safety has been found to be unreasonable and has led to a large fine.

IFAN has been attempting for more that 3 years to engage with the Department of Education and Skills to develop a standardized national policy for the supervision of food allergic children in schools. IFAN was  formally told that a child’s health in school is the responsibility of the Dept of Health, who then told IFAN to talk to the Department of Education.

It is clear that school boards are mis-informed about the overall risk in school and on trips out of school and have developed ad hoc policies that are being successfully challenged, with great distress caused to families and at great cost to the school.  Parents must not make unreasonable demands either; there is always a middle ground to be found.

The suggestion that food allergic children have a disability is unfortunate, as nearly all of them are completely healthy, fit and active in all other ways. Grouping them with children with significant impairments of their daily lives probably does both groups of children a disservice.

IFAN would like to see a proper dialogue about school policies and would encourage its members and associates to get involved by asking local and national representatives to lobby for a meeting of the interested parties.

The full pdf of the WRC 2019 judgement is available to view here.

The full pdf of the WRC 2016 judgement is available to view here.

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