Skip to content

Employee Experience

Ask HR: How Do We Accommodate an Employee with a Severe Nut Allergy?

Nut allergies are everywhere, and children and adults can both

suffer from this potentially debilitating problem. When some nut

allergies are so severe that even dust from peanuts can be a harmful

environmental factor, what should companies do when they have employees

who are affected?

Don’t go nuts just yet. Paycor’s

HR


Support Center can tell you how to handle this tricky situation.

Question:

We have an employee with severe nut allergies. What accommodations do

you recommend?

Answer from Rebecca, HR Pro:

In some circumstances, severe allergies can be a disability under the


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As you may know, under the ADA,

employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to employees

with disabilities.

Begin by engaging in a dialog with the employee to see what

accommodations would allow them to safely do their job. For example, if

the office provides snacks, your employee might want you to keep snacks

with nuts in a separate, clearly labelled cabinet.

Another accommodation may be to send out a notice about allergies when

employees bring in treats for the office or when the office hosts a

potluck. Just make sure not to single anyone out. You could say

something like the following:

“Please note that some employees may have a severe food allergy to

peanuts. Because of this potentially harmful situation, we ask anyone

who prepares a dish made with peanuts and/or peanut oil to clearly

identify their dish as such. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.”

Remember, you may not be able to accommodate every request. If the

only possible accommodation to address the employee’s needs would be an

undue hardship, you are not required to provide that accommodation. If

an employee indicates, for example, that they would have a severe,

life-threatening reaction simply by walking into a kitchen area where

other employees may have had a meal or snack with nuts, taking the

necessary precautions to ensure their safety would necessitate policing

all food items entering the premises. This large undertaking would

likely qualify as an undue hardship.

As with any request for accommodation under the ADA, the key will be

to evaluate the options with the employee and determine if they are

something that you can reasonably accommodate.


Rebecca, HR ProRebecca

has a diverse background in Human Resources and Training Management from

the temporary staffing and insurance industries. She received her

Bachelor’s Degree from LaRoche College and previously served in a

variety of HR management positions.


Do you have questions like this? One entire year of HR Support Center is cheaper than just one hour of a typical attorney’s time. Ask us instead.