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
Support Center can tell you how to handle this tricky situation.
We have an employee with severe nut allergies. What accommodations do
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
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.
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.