The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has been sued for failing to accommodate a boy during a school field trip. The Complaint claims that the boy’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated, when a restaurant operated by the foundation, excluded the boy from the historical experience because his allegies required that he eat his own food prepared outside of the restaurant.
According to the Complaint, filed last Wednesday, an eleven-year old student, who loves history, participated in a school field trip to Colonial Williamsburg along with his father and fellow classmates. The child has a gluten allergy and must avoid certain foods.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates a restaurant called Shields Tavern, which allows visitors to experience life in a colonial gathering place. The Tavern includes costumed historical interpreters that offer guests, “a glimpse into the cosmopolitan nature of the British Colonies.” The guests are also served a meal while at Shields Tavern. At the restaurant, the boy’s father told the staff that his son cannot eat their food because of his allergies, but he would be happy to stay at the table and enjoy the experience. He also told the staff he had safe food for his son to eat. Another costume interpreter told the boy and his father that they could not stay in the restaurant and had to leave the premises to eat their food. The Complaint alleges that solely because of his disability, the manager also told them to leave, and the boy began to cry because he felt signled-out and humiliated in front of his peers.
As a disabled individual, the Complaint alleges that the boy was discriminated against because he was excluded from the educational experience offered to non-disabled children, and the Tavern failed to make reasonable accommodations. The boy’s father sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination by businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (since Colonial Williamsburg Foundation receives federal funding), and the Virginia Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.
Thatcher Law Firm regularly represents businesses and employees with regards to disability issues in employment and public accommodations disputes. Please contact us for more information.