A Massachusetts boy and his friend are suing a youth theater program for barring him from a production due to his nut allergy. The pre-teens have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Massachusetts Commission Against Descrimination.
The complaint alleges discrimination on the basis of disability and requests changes to the theater troupe’s policies for dealing with children with disabilities – specifically allergies. The complaint, lodged against the Young Shakespeare Players East, a chapter of the Young Shakespeare Players, says that the theater troupe barred him from participating in the production because of the accommodations his food allergy would require. His friend was then barred when she attempted to intervene on the boy’s behalf with an email.
The suit is filed as a claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
The Act created laws that prohibit denial of access to educational and recreational programming on the basis of disability. Under the ADA, it is not unusual for a person with severe food allergies to be considered disabled and the lawsuit is making that claim for the 10-year-old boy involved.
The boy required an adult trained in the use of an epinephrine auto-injector be on hand at all times. Rather than accommodate this, the theater troupe denied the boy access to participation.
The theater group denies any wrongdoing.
The troupe, a non-profit organization for youth theater, says that the discrimination did not happen as alleged. According to the troupe, the boy’s mother refused to accept responsibility for the boy’s condition and demanded the troupe accommodate him themselves. She is now the claimant in the boy’s lawsuit.
Because the youth organization is a private group, they are not necessarily required to provide full accommodation if it would be unreasonable. The girl, who wrote the email on her friend’s behalf, was barred due to the “disrespectful tone” of her email, the counter claim says. She was asked to apologize and refused to do so.