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My boss occasionally orders lunch for the entire team in our office. It’s always catered and buffet style.

I have celiac‘s disease, therefore I can’t have anything containing gluten. Every time he does this the only thing I can eat is lettuce. Last time I asked him if there were any gluten free options available to order. His reply was that he wasn’t going to go out of his way for one person.

What would be the best way to bring up the issue with my boss? Ideally, my boss would order considering my dietary restriction and the restrictions/preferences of the whole team.

  • I don't know of any laws that would apply here, but just in case there are, a location tag would help. – Studoku Sep 1 at 23:32
  • Does he tell you all that he is doing this in advance? If I brought in my lunch ordinarily, I would want to know that. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 2 at 0:02
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You did bring it up, and he gave you an answer. Which was not a good answer, not the one you were hoping for.

If you know the catering company, try to see if they have any gluten-free options in their menu. You boss may think he has to organise lunch from a seperate place, which may not be the case.

Otherwise, you will have to bring your lunch in from home.

  • If it's a pizza, sub or sandwich shop, that may be an issue. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Sep 2 at 0:03
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    @Harper where I live, most of those have gluten-free options they can use if you ask for them. They might even be your best bet; they can just replace the dough and then everything will work. – Erik Sep 2 at 5:27
  • @Erik, unfortunately they can't "just replace the dough". With coeliac disease even a small amount of gluten can have serious results, and sandwich shops usually have crumbs of gluten material everywhere with a serious risk of cross-contamination. glutenfreecuppatea.co.uk/2019/06/26/gluten-free-bread-at-subway "whenever I had a subway I remember them brushing the crumbs into the salad/meat… I rarely had a sub that didn’t have a random bit of food I didn’t ask for nevermind taking crumbs into consideration." – Owain Sep 2 at 8:14
  • All this may be true, but it's secondary. I trust the OP is aware of the chance of contamination and is able to perform their own assessment. Celiac is becoming more widely understood, so hopefully the situation for those that suffer improves. – Gregory Currie Sep 2 at 8:41
  • Upvoted; I occasionally have this problem too, although to a much lesser degree than OP; intolerance of seafood and diabetes. My choice is between bringing my own food or going without lunch (because UK catering companies often arrange a buffet so that it looks nice, irrespective of contents). +1 for bring your own lunch. – Justin Sep 2 at 10:46
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Instead of asking your boss to take action to help you, take the intiative and find the solutions yourself and present those to your boss.

He said he wasn't going to go out of his way for one person. He isn't used to thinking about gluten free options, and looking it up would require an investment of time on his part.

So you could make a suggestion of a lunch option that would work for you, and everyone else. If it is easy to order, something everyone would enjoy, and within the same price range, your boss may very well take your suggestion.

When asking for a favor in this regard, make sure to make it as easy to implement as possible. However, if in the end he still refuses to change his usual order, respectfully accept his decision. A free lunch is not worth ruining your relationship with your boss.

  • Catering for a person with a serious medical condition isn't a "favour", it's a legal obligation under disability discrimination legislation in many jurisdictions. Every catered work event I've been to, there are separate plates with gluten-free meals (ordered in advance), prepared separately and cling-filmed. – Owain Sep 2 at 8:16
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    I would just like to point out that highlighting this discrimination to HR, for instance, is the fastest way for these free-lunches to stop, and the OP to be "that guy". (Not suggesting that you are saying they should go to HR, I'm just pointing it out). – Gregory Currie Sep 2 at 8:43
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You did bring it up. Your bosses answer clearly showed you how much he values you and your health. All you can do is take note of that and act accordingly. Nobody can blame you if you value your boss exactly as much as he values your health.

If your “boss” is actually just a manager with HR and company owner to answer to, you can try complaining to HR. Outcome and whether you should do this depends on your HR. Apart from that, look for a new job, don’t worry about using work time for it, sign a contract then leave with the shortest possible notice.

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    I don't think the boss is making a value judgement on the health of an employee. If he was to repackage the food and pretend it's gluten-free that would be a different situation. Also, I'm not sure you know what the job market is like for the OP, so the suggestion that the OP should quit because the boss is not providing a free lunch seems a bit dramatic. – Gregory Currie Sep 2 at 8:39
  • Wow, overreact much? – Andy Sep 4 at 1:13

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