my new team is taunting me because I have a nut allergy

A reader writes:

I have a nut allergy and carry an epipen. It’s never been an issue in the 12 years I’ve worked for my company.

I have recently been promoted to a new department. As usual, I explained to the manager I have a nut allergy but it doesn’t effect anything (i.e., it’s not an airborne allergy), first aiders are aware (and always available), and my epipen is located in my drawer if needed. I said I was only letting him know as sometimes I don’t join in team buffets/bake-offs and don’t want to appear rude.

The manager sent out an email to the entire department banning nuts of any kind in the office because (my full name) is allergic. I was mortified and hastily explained there was no need for that and it’s not that kind of allergy — I’m only ill if I eat them, not if other people do. The manager refused to withdraw or clarify the email and declared the whole department is now nut-free.

When I asked why, he said it’s company policy that if anyone has an allergy, the allergen is banned from the department and he can’t change it. I explained that in 12 years this has never been the case. I asked him to withdraw the email and explained again the reasons it was not necessary. He refused, saying his decision was final and it will not be changed — he’s “not getting sued for something like this” — and literally walked away from his desk.

Since his email went out, there have been a lot of snide comments like “ooh, I would love a peanut butter sandwich but thanks to you-know-who I can’t” … “All these people with made-up allergies looking for attention” … and “Here comes the fun police” when I walk past.

It’s been a month and it’s escalating. Every day this week, I’ve came in to mini Snickers bars lined up along my keyboard. Everyone denies responsibility. I’ve tried to just laugh it off, but it’s starting to really affect me.

The change of department is a promotion and I was so excited to learn and develop new skills, but I want nothing more than to go slinking back to my old position where the staff were lovely. I’m worried if I do ask to transfer back to my original department and pay grade, I will be passed over for future promotions for being flaky and unreliable. Is it even possible to apply for a demotion? What can I do?

What on earth.

There are so many problems here that I don’t even know where to begin. Everyone in this situation except you is a ridiculous ass.

Your coworkers are jerks. Lining up Snickers bars on your desk? This is the action of second graders who don’t yet understand that you don’t taunt people or endanger their welfare (!) because they have a medical condition that stands in the way of you eating a peanut butter sandwich. (Actually, that’s insulting to second graders, most of whom do understand that.) Are these adults with fully-formed brains? Their behavior is breathtaking in its immaturity and general nastiness.

And your manager … dear lord. It’s one thing if he simply misunderstood the company policy — that happens — but he’s being a jerk about it.

Is he aware of the harassment you’re experiencing from the rest of the team? If he is and he’s not acting swiftly to stop it, then he’s not only a jerk but he’s doing the exact thing he claimed he wanted to avoid: putting the company at risk of getting sued.

That’s because it’s illegal under federal law for an employer to allow an employee to be harassed over a disability or the perception of a disability. Legally, your manager can’t stand by while people taunt you or otherwise create a hostile work environment over your nut allergy.

At this point, I wouldn’t try to deal with your manager about this at all. Instead, it’s squarely in HR territory — both his misinterpretation of the policy and the harassment you’re experiencing. Talk to HR and explain what’s been happening. Tell them you’re experiencing harassment that you believe is illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act and that you’re asking for their help in putting a stop to it. Make sure you mention both the snarky comments and the candy bars so they know the full extent of the problem.

Tell them, too, that you’re concerned you might experience retaliation from your boss and your coworkers once it gets out that you talked to HR, and ask for their help in ensuring that doesn’t happen. (Retaliation for reporting harassment is also illegal, so your company HR department has a strong interest in preventing it — but it can help to specifically call it out as something you want their assistance with.)

But even if HR handles this beautifully, even if your boss issues a mea culpa and a correction, even if your coworkers are shamed into acting like normal human beings … you’re still stuck working with awful people who have been terrible to you.

You can point that out to HR too and ask for their help in figuring out how to make this right. It’s understandable that you might not want to work in this department anymore! But it’s also not right that you should have to take a demotion to get away from them. Talk to HR about that explicitly and ask what your options are. Are there other teams where you could keep your current pay grade and still have the professional opportunites this promotion was supposed to provide? If not, you may have to decide if you’d rather stay where you are or go back to the old role — but as a general rule, your company’s solution shouldn’t end with you getting a pay cut or worse assignments. So that needs to be part of this conversation as well — and maybe with a lawyer too if HR doesn’t handle this with appropriate swiftness.

{ 724 comments… read them below }

  1. Rayray*

    This is insane. Are these people really adults??

    I’m reminded of that episodes of freaks and geeks where the bully put peanuts in Bill’s sandwich and he had to go to the hospital.

    These people are childish bullies.

    When it comes to pranks, you never, ever mess with anyone’s food or anything they might eat. I know this is a situation that comes up in schools when a kid has a nut allergy and here are children (and unfortunately, their parents) who respond in a similar manner. However other children are able to manage the situation with grace and make sure to be careful for the person with the nut allergy.

    1. KoiFeeder*

      The peanut butter sandwich comment is almost word-for-word what a teacher said to one of my classmates once, so I can believe they’re adults. Kids usually don’t care!

      The snickers thing is just beyond the pale though. These people are terrible and I would not have kept my temper about this.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Parents can be awful about it, too. Apparently, it’s much worse that their precious can’t have a PB&J than someone else’s kid stays alive. There are a couple of asshole parents at my younger kids school who seem to be on a mission to find out exactly which kids are allergic and then badgering their parents.

        1. LCH*

          and how is that going to change an allergy? i don’t understand this thinking. you can’t argue an allergy away.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Usually they think the kid is faking, but sometimes they’re honest about intending to harass the parents into removing their kid from the school.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            The best I have figured, and I’m not friends or really friendly at all with these folks (see: assholes), is that they want the parents of kids with allergies to be the ones to go to the school and tell them they do not have to ban foods or ask for segregated seating for their kids for “safety reasons” as not to inconvenience everyone else. My younger kid’s best friend has an allergy, and one of the assholes has certainly let their mom know how “inconvenient” the kids’ allergy is and how it was likely to damage the kid’s social life since other parents wouldn’t be willing to “take on the risk”.

            My sense is that these folks are not the majority, just the loudest.

            1. CatLadyInTraining*

              Not being able to eat peanuts at school is an “inconvenience?” Cry me a river! There are a million different things you can pack in your child’s lunch. When did people get so idiotic?

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                We checked and sunflower seed butter was ok. We could not tell the difference. The only people who might have a leg on this are people on WIC / SNAP, sunflower butter is more expensive. But it’s like $2/week more expensive, and I’ll bet the parents screaming loudest are not worried about their grocery bills.

          3. Quinalla*

            There are still far too many people who don’t believe allerigies are really deadly or think parents are overexaggerating. It is amazing to me that people still think this way with so many more people who have and who are diagnosed with food allergies nowadays. I got it when I was growing up with a brother with tree nut allergies, no one really believed in them back then if they didn’t have a relative/friend with them, but now? Geez, but I do run into them. My daughter has peanut and tree nut allergies and I do occasionally run into people who don’t really believe allergies are real (they think they are more like food sensitivities or just getting an upset tummy from eating onions or something) or who just don’t think about them and offer my kid food on the playground without checking with me first (1000 eyerolls for this – who does this cause even without food allergies, how do you know we aren’t vegetarian or avoiding foods because of religion or just don’t want my kid to have sugar right now or a million other things).

            I am SO sorry OP, these people are all horrible :( I don’t have food allergies, but as a Mom of a kid with them and sister to a brother with them, you have all my sympathies.

      2. Katrinka*

        When they were in elementary school, my oldest and my youngest each asked for the occasional nut-free lunch, so that they could sit at the allergy lunch table with a friend. Kids get it, it’s the adults who seem to feel entitled to have whatever they want whenever they want it. In this case, I think the manager bears most of the blame, since he’s the one who has placed such draconian restrictions on the team.

        Unless, of course, he’s correct about the policy and the previous department(s) weren’t following the rules. If that’s the case, then maybe OP can work with HR on getting an exception for the department so they can compromise.

    2. Caramel & Cheddar*

      I immediately thought of that episode too! People who don’t experience food allergies (either directly or in someone close to them) can be shockingly unaware of how serious they are. Most of the time it’s of the “Well, it can’t be *that* bad variety” that underplays the nature of the allergy, but occasionally you get people like this who think people are lying about it, as if it’s fun to put on the persona of “Allergic person” knowing that what comes with that is distrust, bullying, and at its worst, assault.

      1. Tired*

        Not only are they unaware of the seriousness, a distressing number of people get truly *offended* that someone has a food allergy!

        I have food allergies and sometimes simply asking “does this contain any [allergen]?” or saying “oh, sorry, I can’t eat that, I’m allergic to ____” will set off a truly unhinged, ridiculously defensive rant. People are soo weird about food.

    3. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      “Are these people really adults?” — Exactly.

      I don’t think I’d trust any of them to do their jobs properly, given you irrational and childish they are acting about this.

    4. The Original K.*

      It made me think of another advice column I read once (Dear Prudence, maybe?) where a mother-in-law didn’t believe in allergies and cooked a meal with fish oil, and the allergic person had to go to the hospital and almost died. The son was the one who had written in wanting to know how to make peace between his wife and his mother, and the advice columnist was like, you can’t, she should leave you, and if she does so without trying to press charges for attempted murder, consider yourself lucky.

        1. Anonys*

          Is it this one? https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/03/05/my-mom-poisoned-my-girlfriend-2/

          It’s about a girlfriend not a wife but otherwise fits the description perfectly.

          The funniest thing about this one is the guy’s suggesting that “eating before visits” would be a suitable compromise. Like sure “honey by the way, my mom is trying to poison you so just don’t eat anything. And if she tries to shoot you make sure to put on a bullet proof vest next time”

          1. 40 Years in the Nonprofit Trenches*

            “Would you ever consider yourself so awesome a catch that someone would make such a huge sacrifice just to be with you? I’m not singling you out as unworthy of love by saying this.”

          2. Alice's Rabbit*

            Holy crap! I just want to slap him and say, dude, your mom literally tried to kill your girlfriend. There’s no salvaging that relationship. Ever!
            It might be one thing if you were already married with kids when Mommy Dearest pulled her deadly stunt. At that point, disentangling the relationship would be complex, and she would have a great deal more invested in you. She would still be within her rights to demand that your mother be completely cut off from you, her, and any children, though. No one deserves to be threatened like that.
            But she’s not your wife and mother of your children. She’s your girlfriend. And she has every right to bail before she has to post her final “MIL from hell” reddit submission, posthumously.

          3. TrainerGirl*

            Dear Prudence got a letter a while back where the MiL literally poisoned the LW. Every time the LW went to dinner at MiL’s house, she got sick. Finally, the LW went to a dinner that was served buffet style, and thought she was safe…but then she noticed that each place setting had a set of sauces on the table. She switched hers with her husband’s, and he got violently ill. When they got home, LW told the husband what she’d done, and he reacted with rage. She said that she grabbed a few things and ran. I guess husband knew the whole time what his mother had been up to and was fine with it. Sheesh!

            https://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a28638699/in-law-poisoning-stories/

      1. Case of the Mondays*

        I would just change this advice to the couple should disown the mom, assuming the husband didn’t know ahead of time that mom was going to try to poison daughter in law. But yes, if husband tried to make them make amends, that’s grounds for divorce in my eyes!

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Any spouse who has to write to an advice columnist asking how to make peace between a mom/MIL and the spouse who could have died is a lost cause. I would have filed divorce paperwork from my hospital bed. Somebody who has that much trouble prioritizing the person they married over someone who would do that is somebody that you can never trust.

          1. Amaranth*

            Can you imagine having kids and then the battles over how you want them raised vs. what ‘gramma’ wants?

            1. nonegiven*

              There was one on Reddit /justnoMIL, I think. The grandmother made cookies with about 4 different allergens and tried to slip them to the granddaughter every chance she got. The kid ended up in the hospital and the family moved out of the country to get away from grandma.

              1. Julia*

                There is a worse one on reddit where the grandmother actually ended up killing the child. She didn’t believe in her coconut allergy and slathered her in coconut oil for beauty stuff.

                1. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

                  I read this one, Julia! I believe granny asked when she could see the surviving girl (twins, one had the allergy and the other didn’t) and mom said pretty much when I can bring both to visit; meaning never, as one poor baby died.

              2. Katieinthemountains*

                She had them in her purse! She’d made a batch and frozen them so she could always grab and go until she got an opportunity! IIRC, the mother was pregnant with her second child and the MIL was babysitting only so she could nap – but the child turned blue and the MIL freaked out, so the mother woke up and administered the Epi-pen and called 911. The MIL was too shocked to even think about calling 911, so the child would have died if her mother had let MIL babysit so she could go to a prenatal appointment or to pick up some baby things without taking her toddler.

                1. Berkeleyfarm*

                  I will say that a lot of the stories on JustNoMIL are made up for Internet attention, but I can just as easily see someone actually doing this because there are a lot of people out there who “don’t believe” in allergies.

          2. Deejay*

            Agreed. The only way he could have saved the relationship would have been to disown his mother on the spot.

        2. Katrinka*

          It was a girlfriend, and she had already left him, because she didn’t want to make him choose between them. He wanted to know how to get her back. I think Carolyn’s advice would be different if it were a married couple or if the GF wanted to work things out.

          If it were me, I’d tell him to dump Mom now, whether or not the GF comes back, she’s always going to pull something like this, she’s a freaking psycho.

      2. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

        I remember that column! I think it was Dear Prudence (although I couldn’t swear to it), and it stuck in my mind because the sheer unmitigated assholery involved was so mind-boggling. I think this one is going to stick with me, too, for the same reasons!

        1. Ally McBeal*

          Dear Prudence had a similar one, but it wasn’t allergies – the wife suspected her MIL had tried to poison her before, but her husband didn’t believe her so she secretly swapped plates with her husband at the table. When he became ill that night and she came clean about the swap, it became apparent that her husband KNEW about his MIL’s attempts. She divorced him.

          https://slate.com/human-interest/2012/05/dear-prudie-mothers-day-advice-on-plastic-surgery-gifts-and-poison.html

          1. Veryanon*

            OMG that was the first thing I thought of when I read this letter. That column was legendary and I often hope that the wife got out of there safely.

        1. The Original K.*

          No – this was different. I read this one too, but in the one I’m thinking of, the MIL hid her fish oil deception from the wife and her son and I think the MIL was contrite, after, you know, nearly killing someone (the wife was having none of it, and rightfully so). In the mushroom one, the family was brazen about eating mushrooms, would pass them around in front of her, put them in stuff that they don’t normally go in, and said straight up that it was too bad she was allergic to mushrooms; the rest of the family liked them and wasn’t going to change for her (if anything, they ramped up their mushroom consumption out of spite).

          1. cat lady*

            It’s a whole trend, to the point that Marie Claire did a round up of “mothers-in-law trying to kill sons’ spouses with food allergens”

            1. ThePear8*

              I am astounded how many of these stories there are in this thread alone!
              I’m also reminded of one I read a little while ago where the writer was severely allergic to peppercorn, so the MIL, insisting she was just being too sensitive and picky and not actually allergic, insisted on cooking knowing full well the writer’s allergy and cooked pepper-crusted turkey and the smell alone gave her a severe reaction. The MIL took her epipen off her though and refused to administer it, but fortunately the MIL’s husband and son returned to the room in time to help her out. People can be shockingly cruel.

                1. ThePear8*

                  Ah, it was a while ago on a Reddit revenge thread so don’t know if I can find it again…the OP had mentioned there were other ways in which the MIL had bullied her/endangered her safety and so she and her fiancee moved away and would be shortly deleting their social media presence.
                  However, from what I remember they did get the MIL fired from her university job by pretty much just giving the dean an honest account of everything she did.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I’ve never heard of anybody who has a peppercorn allergy, but possibly me & my mother before me …so I will be taking this info to the allergist at vaccine +3 months.

                1. My Dear Wormwood*

                  It’s amazing what you can be allergic to if you body hates you enough. I know of a guy anaphylactically allergic to cucumbers. He basically can’t eat out because who keeps track of what chopping board was used for cucumber?

                2. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Cucumbers? Poor thing!
                  Suddenly, I count myself lucky, as most people are willing to acknowledge my tree nut allergy. Except my sister, who keeps insisting on making dishes with nuts and then getting angry and offended when I won’t eat them.

                3. Lizzo*

                  @Alice I just don’t understand that mentality of purposefully making things for people when they can’t eat them. My first question to guests is always, “Do you have dietary restrictions?” And then I do my best to accommodate.

                  There may have been a time in my life when I wasn’t asking that question, but I certainly wouldn’t get mad at someone for refusing to eat my food because of an allergy–I’d feel very sad that I hadn’t been a good hostess!

              2. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                I can kind of get my head around an awful person insisting on ‘proving’ that someone is faking an allergy, but once you see someone struggling to breathe in front of you and you’re now denying them an epipen, what on earth is the end game? Insist your daughter in law faked herself to death?

                1. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Some people (who obviously don’t understand how allergies actually work) seem to think it’s all in your head, to the point of psychosomatic symptoms. So they think, if they deny you the medication and refuse to let anyone else fuss over you, you’ll have no choice but to push through and see that it’s been in your head all along. They view your symptoms as being akin to a kid turning blue because they held their breath during a tantrum. And they are determined to be the one who finally breaks your bad habit.
                  Ask me how I know… stupid sister almost killed me, and still tries to sneak nuts into my food. And then wonders why I won’t let her babysit.

          2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I can vouch for the mushroom one; not my entire family, but one member of my family did start sneaking mushrooms into dishes where they don’t belong to flesh out how allergic to them I am. Couple that with an impression of Seinfeld’s “Soup Fascist” and, well, it was a Thanksgiving where I lost a few pounds.

          3. AVP*

            Found it! It was an Ask Polly, google “ask polly mushroom allergy” and it comes right up. This story is so awful it’s seared in my brain.

        2. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

          That’s the one I thought of when I read this post. What is wrong with people?

      3. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Yes. There is also a woman who is absolutely legendary among readers of a wedding advice board known as “almond ghost” – her former fiance wrote to the board asking for advice because Almond Ghost completely disappeared from his life after his sister’s wedding. Turns out she was deathly allergic to almonds and, upon finding that out, his sister and mom changed the wedding menu so that everything (including the mashed potatoes) had almonds in it without telling anybody. Almond Ghost was given no alternatives, and they were at a hotel in the middle of nowhere so she could not leave or have food delivered and so had nothing to eat from lunch until breakfast the next morning.

        All that to say: People are cruel jerks, and I can absolutely believe these coworkers are adults that think they are rational human beings. But come on, wanting a PB&J is not more important than not potentially killing your coworker!

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I read a story on motherinlawstories dot com from a man who was allergic to peanuts, and his inlaws started putting them in everything, including floating them in the holiday punch.

            1. EPLawyer*

              That’s where I am. Even if you think your child, sibling, cousin, whatever is absolutely perfect WHY would you try to KILL someone they love?

              As for not believing allergies are real, I am not even sure where that one started. Of course someone makes up a life threatening condition just to ruin everyone else’s fun and limit their own food options.

              1. TexasRose*

                “As for not believing allergies are real, I am not even sure where that one started.”

                Because some over-entitled dimwits claim that they are “deathly allergic” to something (tomatoes, dairy, peanuts, etc.) when the truth is, they simply don’t like whatever or they want to cause trouble for the cook. (These shenanigans are sometimes showcased at NotAlwaysRight dot com. Unfortunately I can’t find a search feature on that site.)

                I point this out because there IS a reason some folks sometimes have trouble taking allergies seriously. My personal guess is that the Mushroom Family has pulled that kind of fake-allergy prank before, which is why they’re doubling down on “allergies aren’t real.” (This doesn’t make them any less despicable, just more explicable.)

                1. Uly*

                  No.

                  People pretend they have allergies instead of preferences because if they say they simply do not like tomatoes people like The Mushroom Family will try to sneak tomatoes into the food to “prove” that they’re just exaggerating or that they could like them if they tried.

                  The sort of people who sneak foods to “prove” allergies are fake aren’t doing it because they’ve been lied to. They’re doing it because they’re bad people.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I didn’t know about that one. I’m sitting here with my mouth hanging open.

          I remember a comment here from several years ago where a commenter’s coworker was some kind of extreme Christian and kept telling her if she prayed over her, she’d be able to eat peanuts. She had to go to the higher-ups and tell them if said coworker even tried to bring them around her she would press charges.

        3. pope suburban*

          Almond mashed potatoes sound terrible. They ruined a whole wedding menu for who knows how many people just to run his girlfriend off- what horrible people!

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            RIGHT? And the guy was asking for…sympathy? Because he didn’t think it was such a big deal since there would be food for breakfast!

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              Seriously? Wow, what a jerk! The girl is definitely better off without him, even ignoring the crazy in-laws.

        4. Artemesia*

          The fiance had his chance; he could have left with her and found a place to eat and blown off the wedding. He chose to stay and subject her to this. She is better off without him.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, letting her go hungry that long – so much not OK. Sounds like he was also lacking in empathy.

          2. Alice's Rabbit*

            Or at least stayed for a bit, for appearances sake (it is his sister’s wedding, after all) and then taken his girl out to find something – anything – to eat later that evening. Asking her to delay eating for a couple hours annoying but forgivable. But refusing to understand why she wouldn’t want to wait until morning? Yeah, self-centered jerk.

        5. Katrinka*

          There are people who genuinely do not believe food allergies are real. I’m allergic to cantaloupe and honeydew and I’ve had people take them out of salads and then lie to me that they were never in there. I also once had a waitress serve me a drink that had Midori in it, after I specifically asked and was assured that it didn’t. That one, I ended up in the ER with my throat swelling.

          The people that fake allergies are partly to blame as well. If you want something taken out of a dish because you don’t like it, DON’T SAY YOU HAVE AN ALLERGY!

        6. Mongrel*

          A work colleague has a similar problem, his daughter is allergic to almonds and they come from a (mostly) vegetarian culture where almonds are ubiquitous and large family gatherings are the norm.
          They’ve had to walk out of a couple of wedding receptions. Despite being told, and the caterers doing a bang up job, the table presents are sugared almonds.

      4. Atlantian*

        There is an absolutely heartbreaking JustNoMIL post (at least, I think it was that subreddit, could have been one of the other relationship ones) where the Grandmother actually killed one of her twin granddaughters by using coconut oil on her hair after being told repeatedly that the child was allergic to coconut. The grandmother in question was a very traditional Indian woman who apparently knew no other way to care for little girl’s hair, and decided to “make a point” to the parents when they let the girls sleep over one night. It’s devastating.

        Allergies can be very serious. A big middle finger to anyone who doesn’t take them seriously, and an even bigger one to the people who pretend to have them for really any reason. You’re only making it harder for the people with actual issues.

        1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

          It was definitely JNMIL, but it got deleted because everyone would bring it up constantly even for minor issues (“you might think your MIL is annoying now because she prefers blue over pink, BUT THIS ONE MIL KILLED HER GRANDKIDS!!”).

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Yeah, false equivalence like that drives me nuts. Yes, there are starving children in the world, and horrible people who kill out of ignorance and spite. That doesn’t mean someone else isn’t allowed to vent about having a rough time.

        2. FrenchCusser*

          Meh. It shouldn’t matter if some people pretend to allergies they don’t have. No one should ever try to force someone to eat something they don’t want to (and I include forcing children in that).

          Just let people eat or not eat. It’s no skin of anyone else’s nose.

          1. Katrinka*

            It absolutely does matter, because when people realize that they are lying, they are less likely to believe the next person who says they have an allergy. Not to mention, lying about a disability in order to receive accommodations is illegal.

            1. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              It shouldn’t really be considered an ‘accommodation’ to not have people force food you don’t want on you, though, it’s just common courtesy.

              1. Amazed*

                The complaint isn’t against pushing back on someone trying to override your dietary preferences. It’s against faking an allergy to try and do so.

            2. JB*

              Nope.

              Yes, people who lie about having an allergy are jerks. However, that does not somehow absolve responsibility from people who respond by deciding to disbelieve anybody who tells them in the future that they have allergies.

              If a person is more concerned about not ‘being tricked’ than about being baseline polite to someone who claims to have a deadly allergy, that is not acceptable nor is it something that can be excused with ‘but I’ve been lied to before’.

            3. Uly*

              No.

              We’ve all been lied to. We don’t all assume that because one person once told us a lie that, therefore, all other people with that situation are liars.

              People lie about food preferences being allergies because if they don’t, people try to persuade them into eating the food they dislike, or sneak it into their dishes.

              The people who try to “prove” that people with allergies are all liars would do that anyway, because those are the same sort of people who try to “prove” that people who dislike foods are lying about that.

        3. Persephone Mongoose*

          That’s the story my mind went to as well, it was so devastating.

          I have a niece with several severe allergies and I’m never feeding her anything unless her parents explicitly give the OK as I don’t want to risk her safety.

      5. The Green Lawintern*

        There was an absolutely horrifying one that got passed around reddit a couple years back – grandma didn’t believe that granddaughter had a severe coconut allergy, so when the parents let grandma babysit granddaughter overnight, she put coconut oil in granddaughter’s hair. Grandma then proceeded to ignore/minimize signs of a severe allergic reaction (fed her a couple benadryl and called it a day) until it was too late and granddaughter died.

        It’s an awful story, but I think it really underscores the importance of treating allergies seriously.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I found this- it’s titled, “You can come over again when you bring me my daughter.” An entire family was shattered because of grandma’s selfishness.

      6. AY*

        Not about allergies, but who else remembers the notorious Dear Prudence MIL who consistently poisoned the DIL every visit? The DIL found out when she switched food plates with her husband, and her husband got violently ill. Absolutely chilling, even years later.

          1. AKchic*

            Yep, the then-husband knew the whole time and acted absolutely betrayed that the victim had switched poisoned ramekins so he’d be the one to get sick. Like, how dare she? She divorced him in a hurry and went full legal on the family as far as I could tell.

            1. Lexie*

              This sounds like one I read but the son wasn’t in on it. MIL was specifically doing it when her son and DIL were going to be alone in a secluded place because she knew her son was dangerous and was trying to keep DIL out if a situation where she could be killed.

              1. Hannah F.*

                I read that too. Ask redditships on Twitter, that’s the most likely way for me to have come across it.

          2. JumpyJess*

            He went straight to rage when she confessed to switching plates and causing him to get sick instead. So not only was he complicit, but also pretty much a sociopath… Yeah, imagine thinking that person LOVED you until that moment. CHILLING.

            1. JumpyJess*

              *Ramekins, not plates. (Thanks, AKchic!) Can’t believe I forgot that part. That extra bit of planning to make sure she would get poisoned despite getting a normal plate… Yeah.

            2. Horrified*

              I bet he had a life insurance on her and was thrillingly waiting for his mom kill his wife… The #$%#$!!!

      7. TiredMama*

        Any Below Deck Med watchers here remember when the chef (Adam) intentionally served a guest onions? Luckily it was a preference and not an allergy, but why do people feel the need to do crap like this? Also, I have stopped watching Below Deck because that some toxic stew unwelcome in 2020, but I would love a side blog from Alison where she other managers and HR experts address the insanity in some of these workplace reality shows.

        1. Ally McBeal*

          I absolutely remember that episode (and second your desire for a workplace-advice-columnist roundtable on reality “workplace” shows)! He really should have been fired – yes, it’s a diva demand and rather ridiculous considering how many fine-dining dishes have onion somewhere in them… but they’re paying a lot of money to rent a yacht and its staff, just honor their preferences.

          Also, I’ve always found it odd and sad that Queen Elizabeth hates alliums – onions, garlic, etc. – and therefore her family is forbidden from eating it when they’ll be around her. I assume this means menus for state dinners are also subject to this restriction.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Yes, all meals at her properties are banned from including allium. She loathes the smell, so it’s not even enough to just serve them to others.
            Fortunately, she doesn’t insist that the whole family follows this restriction on their own (though she does suggest it during public appearances, to avoid bad breath).

        2. Artemesia*

          I am one of those people who get sick when they eat onions — not a true allergy, I don’t stop breathing, but for a couple of days I have an upset stomach — and if they are raw in a relish or salad for example, I get a migraine and violently ill. So I’d be suing this chef. The onion sensitivity is fairly common and it is no fun. I am always surprised where it is easy to accommodate and not. Oddly I had no trouble in Russia where much of the ordinary diet is made up of onions and potatoes and have little problem in France which doesn’t use onions in cuisine as casually as the US where throwing chopped red onions in things (they are impossible to extract unlike onion rings on the steak) is ubiquitous.

          1. AKchic*

            Even at a young age, I vomited with onions. My whole family was very big on onions for some reason, and was insistent that I was just being dramatic and a picky eater (I was, and still am a picky eater, but onions aren’t a matter of pickiness). As I’ve aged, It’s gone from mere vomiting to full-on IBS-like symptoms, headaches and minor breathing problems.
            My family? The older generations still play it off as a “overdramatic preference”. All children’s allergies and medical problems are treated as non-issues until they are adults. Then the men are treated as dire issues to be catered to while the women’s medical issues are still marginalized and mocked. And they all wonder why I vocally opted out of the dysfunction.

            1. tangerineRose*

              That’s awful! I’m sorry you had to deal with this. Did they really think you were vomiting on purpose to avoid eating something?!

        3. pretzelgirl*

          I follow some Server/Restaurant groups on facebook. mainly bc I worked in one several years ago. I didn’t last long but enjoy hearing the stories of working in restaurants. There are ALOT of people who make up allergies so they can get certain ingredients omitted bc they don’t care for them. Or people saying they are gluten free when its a dietary preference and not a true “allergy”. So many servers have become really jaded and have stopped taking allergy requests seriously. Not saying any side is right here. No one should fake an allergy and restaurants should take them seriously. Its a shame that its reached this point in society.

          1. Tía Teapot*

            Most “legit” gluten-free people don’t have a “true allergy” – it’s not an anaphylaxis situation- and most won’t have symptoms until much later. There’s no way for a server to identify the difference. And there’s several other food sensitivity issues which, while not life-threatening, will “just” make a person physically miserable & possibly lose a day or several of normal functioning.

            But even if it’s just a preference. Food service people are in a service industry, and providing customers with a pleasant experience should take priority over “ugh, now I have to make sure this salad doesn’t have croutons.” If the industry wasn’t so resistant to “I just really hate tomatoes can you leave them off”, people to whom tomatoes are just disgusting enough to contaminate the entire meal (it’s like cilantro, there’s a chemical in fresh tomatoes that some people detest) wouldn’t feel like they had to exaggerate in order to enjoy this meal they’re paying for.

            1. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

              I despise dill pickles. Not allergic, but I will not eat them, or anything plated with them. Years ago, my then-boyfriend worked for a restaurant that delivered the most delicious lunch platters, always including a giant dill pickle. Because of my boyfriend, I knew the owner. I’d call in my order and ALWAYS end with “…and absolutely no pickles!” He knew my name and my usual order.

              I always had pickles with my food. Poor boyfriend, he’d drop it off at my job and I’d open it, see pickle, roll my eyes and say sorry honey he put pickles on it. Take it back. He always did with no complaints. The second trip, there was no pickle, but the owner had just picked it out of the container. I could see and smell the juice. Sorry hon, take it back and tell him to remake it.

              Generally the 3rd plate was ok. VERY annoying, and wasted food multiple times a week, but if he’d have listened the first time it wouldn’t be wasted. And yes, the food was good enough that it was worth the aggravation.

              1. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

                Sorry, I left off the point—I never once would have claimed an allergy to try to prevent the aggravation. Wouldn’t have occurred to me. Granted, this was about 25 years ago.

                1. Tía Teapot*

                  Thinking back 25 years ago – mid 90s- pretty sure I remember being in restaurants with groups & having problems with actual “no that will actually maybe kill her” allergies possibly except for shellfish. Also, most people ordering food aren’t interacting with their boyfriend & his boss. (Why didn’t boyfriend check before delivery?) Sorry, I stand by “hospitality industry should provide hospitality & people who have experience with this not happening unless they exaggerate or fudge terms aren’t the problem.”
                  But I also believe that most people who say that a food will make them sick are telling the truth, even if the kind of illness isn’t the one they claim in order to get food that won’t make them ill.

    5. Slow Gin Lizz*

      After this comment, if I were the OP I would *never* trust my team *again.* What’s to stop them from doing just this? (Putting nuts in my food without my knowing it???) What horrible people they are. OP, I hope you can get a lateral move in the company to a team and supervisor who are normal people and treat you and your food restrictions/allergy with respect.

      1. TootsNYC*

        if I were HR, that would be my focus. I’d be moving them all out of the company, or at the least out of that department.

        1. tangerineRose*

          These co-workers seem very cruel. I don’t think I’d want people like that working for me or with me.

    6. Anon for this*

      I definitely feel for OP, people can be horribly cruel to people with food allergies and intolerances. I hope they’re able to work something out.

      When I worked at my old company, I really struggled with eating out and eating certain types of foods, though I couldn’t figure out why. I’d get very sick and often had rashes and joint pain on top of everything else. Regardless of knowing this, my coworkers created a group chat (excluding me, of course) where they would make fun of my eating habits. I would also get comments like, “Eating that again? Amazing that you haven’t gotten a heart attack yet.”

      Shortly after I left I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I don’t think knowing that would have changed my coworkers’ behavior.

      1. many bells down*

        You’re probably right, especially if you’re a man. People seem to think it’s a “girly diet fad”. I can’t count the number of times a server at a restaurant will serve me the GF dish, even though it’s my husband who has celiac.

    7. RobotWithHumanHair*

      I remember all those people who told me that it would get better after high school in terms of bullying, taunting, etc. because the guilty parties would mature and realize that what they’re doing is wrong.

      Yep, that clearly didn’t happen in this case.

      1. TootsNYC*

        what does get better is that it’s easier to leave, often.
        You might have to quit a job you like, or take a paycut, but it’s POSSIBLE.
        In school, it’s often not possible.
        (It wasn’t in my home town, since there was only one school; and also, any club I might have joined for a break from bullying would have the same asshole girls in it. My mom looked hard until she found a 4-H club with only one girl roughly my age, and she FORCED me to attend a meeting to try it. It became a saving space for me.)

        1. micklethwaite*

          Yes – I was miserable from bullying at school and I’ve definitely encountered comparably awful adults, but they are easier to evade.

    8. Keymaster of Gozer*

      A former friend (former because this) refused outright to believe my one allergy, and in the end switched out my regular drink to one with the allergen in it to ‘prove’ I was lying.

      I’m allergic to decaf. Specifically a chemical used in the decaffination process. So I can drink regular tea, coffee, cola etc just fine but a decaf version can block my breathing entirely. She switched out all my regular tea bags with decaf ones, I ended up in the hospital, she was laughing about her ‘prank’ on FB…cue epic style friend circle complete meltdown.

      I generally explain to coworkers/managers within the first days on a new job that the ‘haha just give her decaf she’s too stressed’ joke could kill me, but unless you throw your decaf coffee into my face I don’t have issues with others consuming it.

      (And if you’re bunging coffee into my gob we’ve got bigger issues)

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        That is awful. I have zero tolerance for allergy deniers because they can kill people trying to prove their point.

        And bragging about it on FB? Thanks, ex-friend, I’ll be printing that out for the small claims court filing seeking reimbursement for medical fees and lost wages.

        I really hate people some days.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Very early days of FB, she was more ‘haha I’ve outed an allergy faker! I’m the best!’ followed by several ‘omg that’s great’ comments from people I didn’t know and a ‘here’s what I did’ post later.

          I was 24 at the time and pretty much went nuclear at her. Full scale uninvited from my wedding along with anyone who thought I was overreacting.

          Since then I’ve really no chill about taunting people about their allergies. It’s cruel, dangerous, and has no possible positive impact at all.

          1. Myrin*

            You had every right to go nuclear on her, holy crap!
            But also, how dumb was she? You ended up in the hospital and she still maintained she outed a faker? Like. How?

              1. Alice's Rabbit*

                Yup. In certain jurisdictions that would qualify as attempted murder. It most certainly meets the qualifications for assault with bodily harm, and assault with a deadly weapon.

          2. tangerineRose*

            Good for you. I think this was actually a pretty mild reaction considering what she did. I’d have wanted to call the cops or a lawyer – isn’t what she did illegal somehow?

    9. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I got similar treatment in college. Not over an allergy–I didn’t know about my allergy yet–but over being a redhead.

      You have my condolences, OP. Hopefully HR has your back, a lawyer letter does its job, or another opportunity with a human employer opens up soon.

        1. Myrin*

          I mean, “traditionally”, at least where I am, it’s considered a witch’s haircolour, but I honestly doubt that a lot of people really put stock in that nowadays.
          I will say, though, that I’ve been bullied for basically everything except for my red hair (and my mum and grandpa report so as well) so I’m wondering if there’s a cultural component to this that I’m not aware of as well (we’re not in the US and I really only encountered the “kick a ginger” mentally when I started consuming media from there but that might purely be coincidence).

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Seriously. I’ve spent years paying someone to turn my hair some shade or red or auburn. I find anti-redhead sentiment to be just plain weird.

          1. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

            Same here! I love my dyed brilliant-red-that-can’t-be-natural hair. I loved it when I dyed it auburn, too.

            I think a lot of the redhead crap started on South Park several years ago. Cartman taunted a redhead saying ‘gingers have no souls’, whatever that was supposed to mean. I have a friend whose son has gorgeous curly red hair (seriously, I’d have adored it) and he got so much bullying at school based on that story arc.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Given the linguistic cues in the derogatory epitaphs, I’d suggest it’s even simpler than that. I think there are many who simply feel better about themselves with a superficial “other” to denigrate.

            1. nottodaySatan*

              As a redhead, this shit is real and yes, related to Saxon hierarchies of racialization. Blond at the top, brunette next, and auburn = the devil.

              Nobody has legit tried to kill me though.

          2. fogharty*

            I think it has to do with South Park, actually. At least it explains the recent hate against red-haired people. I see lines like “Gingers have no souls” and such taken straight from the show. It popularized hatred and intolerance while pretending to be satirical.

    10. Quill*

      In my experience people’s parents were generally worse about the allergy than the kids when I had a classmate with an allergy, but the kids get it from somewhere…

      Fun fact I remember a kid getting shoved off a picnic bench because another classmate went a little overboard in trying to protect the kid with allergies: a coconut is not, generally speaking, part of a ‘nut allergy.’

    11. Massmatt*

      I think the employees are taking their cue from the boss. The LW didn’t ask for some draconian prohibition on all nuts, the boss made the announcement, naming the LW as the cause, and refused to modify or explain. The boss is an inflexible jerk who refuses to listen, so this flows down to the people he hires and the tone he sets.

      Going to HR is the right move but sadly I’m skeptical the boss or overall group culture can be fixed. We know the boss doesn’t listen and clings to bad decisions he’s already made. HR talking to or warning people about not making a hostile environment will probably just shift the type of hostility.

      In retrospect, maybe it was unnecessary to tell the boss about the nut allergy if it’s not an airborne issue, just don’t eat potlucks (how often are these happening, anyway?) but you couldn’t possibly expect that your boss and coworkers to be so insane.

      1. Amaranth*

        My guess would be that OP had to explain it at some point with ‘Good Team’ because they expressed interest/concern after a few lunches and it was No Big Deal. So they just thought it would be a casual proactive comment or simply making small talk with a new boss. I agree that going to HR is pretty much the only recourse at this point. If OP had immediately followed up with a team email that said ‘oh, sorry, manager misunderstood, this isn’t a problem at all, just if you bring pb cookies you’ll have to eat my share!’ then manager would be the bad guy. But, in the end, OP should have been able to trust their manager to fix this, and for coworkers to understand, regardless.

        1. Amaranth*

          The moment the team turned to harassment, of course, made this unsalvageable to me. I’d have to be transferred or leave, but I’d be documenting everything and discussing severance or lawsuit.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Yeah, I would definitely have already polished my resume and started applying elsewhere. Then again, I am well known for enjoying moving, so I have no problem uprooting to a new city, if that’s what it takes to find a new, less crazy, workplace.

      2. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        The hilarious part about all of this to me is that the boss put out such a draconian order…and people on the team are obviously disobeying it because they’re bringing Snickers in.

        So not only is the boss a jerk, but his subordinates are being willfully insubordinate, and he has a case of bullying going on that he’s allowing. This entire department would get Nuked From Orbit by any competent HR.

        1. Littorally*

          I don’t believe it’s actual insubordination; to me, it sounds like the boss deliberately phrased things the way he did in order to stir up just this reaction.

          1. Wehaf*

            The boss declared that the office had to be nut-free, and OP’s coworkers are deliberately bringing in food with nuts (and leaving it on OP’s desk). That sounds like insubordination to me.

            1. Pennyworth*

              I agree, and I’d be inclined to collect the Snickers without touching them and ask HR if they can be fingerprinted.

              In relation to declaring an office nut free, I have worked at schools with anaphylactic children, and while the school will make every effort to protect the students from exposure they will never declare a school ‘nut free’ because that is impossible to guarantee.

              1. Alice's Rabbit*

                We have some nut free schools in my area. They are quite strict about it, in fact. Kids even have to wash their hands as soon as they enter, just in case they might have touched something contaminated with nuts at home.

    12. Economist*

      My friend’s step-mother used to cook with ingredients that my friend was allergic to, thinking that my friend was not really allergic. What made it really bad is that at the time my friend had terminal cancer and only a few months to live. Even if the step-mother thought that her step-daughter really didn’t have allergies, would it have been so hard just to humor her and give her what she requested? Why go out of one’s way to upset someone so ill?

    13. Hoya Lawya*

      The company is within its rights to ban all nuts, though, even if they haven’t done so before, or even if OP’s nut allergy is mild and doesn’t get triggered by airborne nut particles. The company wants to err on the side of caution to prevent liability.

      The manager should not have identified OP as the nut allergy sufferer, of course.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My job has banned all shellfish (because of Iodine/shellfish allergies) and all peanuts (again allergies), but never identified who had the allergies in question. Unfortunately in the case of my job the folks with the allergies have skin-contact level sensitivities, so it has to be a complete ban to make things safe.

        But again – the people with the allergies haven’t been identified, just the allergens and level of severity.

      2. Greige*

        Yeah, I’m with you. Like with anything else, the company has the right to exercise an abundance of caution. Makes it easier, too, if another employee with a peanut allergy gets hired later. But it’s hard to believe the boss’s intent was anything other than to initiate a harassment campaign, given how he announced the policy.

    14. Berkeleyfarm*

      Oh, they’re adults, they are bullies who have found an enabler in high places and other enablers around.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the corporation was shipping off bullies to that group for a while.

  2. Momma Bear*

    Wow. The lining up of candy that might kill you is definitely not funny and should be perceived as a threat. I’d take that to HR immediately. It is one thing to grumble about nuts (ask any parent who gets the list of banned food at the start of the year) but another to actively harass someone about it. Your coworkers are less able to handle a nut free zone than schoolchildren. I hope that for your sake it gets squashed immediately and they remember to be professionals and move on. I agree that the fix shouldn’t be you taking a demotion or lesser salary. You haven’t done anything wrong. You should not be punished.

    1. merp*

      I suppose this is more of a side thing because you are right, coworkers should absolutely be able to handle a nut-free zone ruling, but it puts this to an extra level for me that the OP didn’t even ask for that or need that, that was all their weird manager! This whole situation is absurd and I’m so sorry you’re experiencing it, OP.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right – the OP even tried to get the manager to retract the email banning nuts in the office, but that braintrust ignored OP.

        Frankly, I would tell my colleagues this and would be asking HR about a transfer. All of these people are asshats and can’t be trusted.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Seriously, what is wrong with these coworkers? If a colleague of mine had a serious allergy I might ask questions about the policy, like whether there could be a designated spot in the building for eating items with the allergen. And I can understand people forgetting by accident or not knowing what has nuts in it, especially at first.

        But the sheer intentional nastiness of these coworkers is astounding.

        1. UKDancer*

          Yes, I think it’s fine to check how allergic someone is, especially if you’re arranging food for them because requirements can differ.

          I’ve had a boss with a peanut allergy that meant he was allergic to any contact with them or having them in the air so whenever I ordered catering for a meeting it all had to be peanut free and we didn’t allow peanut products in our part of the office. Later I had another boss with a lactose allergy so I had to provide non-lactose alternatives in the catering but didn’t have to make everything lactose free because she was fine with being in the presence of dairy as long as she wasn’t eating it.

          But when someone tells you they’re allergic to x you have to believe them. You can’t go around tormenting them with whatever they’re allergic to because you don’t like it or don’t like them. OP your co-workers suck!

      3. SallyJ*

        It comes across like the manager did this intentionally to start drama.

        It isn’t like one day an ENTIRE DEPARTMENT decided to be overly dramatic about something minor to them and serious to someone else. No. These are drama llamas that work here. If it isn’t this, it will be something else. There is no way the manager didn’t know this. It sounds like he is a drama llama who likes passive aggressively punitive.

        I worked with people like this (posted below), it is sooooo draining. It doesn’t matter how capable you are, if you are not a “water off my back” kind of person, this type of environment really effects you.

        1. it's me*

          Right? I’m wondering if the underlying dynamic is that this manager and these employees don’t want OP in this department. Granted, I have no idea what’s going on beyond the allergy drama.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, that is the way it reads to me too. The manager sent the email as snark, he fully expected a free-for-all to follow.

          Look at it this way- his words do not match his walk. If indeed all nuts had to be totally banned then he should be up in arms at the first instance of non-compliance. He isn’t. This tells me there is no ban rule like he told you, OP. He is a hateful, spiteful, small person who delights in making others miserable.

          Skip the boss. Go to HR.

    2. SD*

      Halloween is coming and yesterday I was sorting out the Costco bag of mini candies (Snickers, Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, peanut M&Ms, etc.) into baggies for contactless zip line delivery to the few neighborhood kids we’re expecting. I dumped the whole bag out onto the table so I could pick and choose. There was a loose peanut. There were a couple of minis where the wrapper wasn’t sealed properly. Placing a Snickers bar with a peanut smear on the outside of the wrapper could have serious consequences. That’s the chance these people think is “funny”?

      My grandson is allergic to peanuts. He was tested early because one of my brothers was violently allergic to peanuts. A parent at his school once asked me what happened if we did give him a peanut. She wasn’t being snotty at all, but the level of ignorance kind of floored me. I did kindly reply that we wouldn’t do that as the result could be life threatening. Really, as in dead.

      1. JustaTech*

        I was waiting to board a cross-country flight once when the gate attendant announced that there was someone with a severe nut allergy on the flight and so could we please all consume our nuts now and not bring them on the flight?

        The folks sitting next to me are genuinely confused and ask each other “what’s the big deal?” and some other people were making the “someone is being dramatic face” so I said (loud enough for the group to hear) “Nut allergies are fatal and fast. I don’t want to have to land in Montana to offload a corpse, or end up sitting next to a dead guy for the rest of the flight so I’m just going to eat my cashews now.”
        Everyone looks at me with various expressions of horror. “Wait, you can die of allergies?”
        “Absolutely. In the space of minutes. Even with an epi-pen.”
        “Oh my god, I had no idea.”
        Cue a lot of rummaging in bags to check what snacks they’d bought.

        I’m an immunologist so I know about allergies, but it seems like a lot of people don’t.

        1. LunaLena*

          People know a lot less about most subjects than they think. It’s frankly fascinating to see how people consider themselves “experts” or “well-informed” because they’ve read a few things on the Internet, then make up stuff to fill in the gaps (and I include myself on this! I suspect it’s the way our brains are wired). I remember once seeing a climate change denier say that he was right and everyone should listen to him because he was a trained scientist. In the next sentence he clarified that he was an economist, and since economic science is a thing, that makes him a scientist whose opinion was equally valid as those who actually studied climate change.

          I suspect this is also why a lot of people don’t take coronavirus seriously until it affects them directly.

        2. PVR*

          I was on a flight once (from Hawaii!) when the flight attendant came over to let us know that someone within 4 rows of us had a severe peanut allergy and if we wanted to eat anything with peanuts to let her know so she could relocate that person while we ate our food. I should add that the flight was in the air by the time we were told AND we had been snacking on macadamia nuts we’d bought in the airport, it could just as easily have been the peanut M&Ms that were in my bag. I was horrified at the way this was handled and just hoped that no one else had brought anything with peanuts to eat. This so easily could have been such a bad situation. 4 rows didn’t seem like enough space to me and why wouldn’t we have been notified before we took off? I just wasn’t used to thinking about it at the time, now when I fly I don’t eat or bring anything with nuts at all.

          1. A Poster Has No Name*

            The airline might not have been notified before takeoff. If the person with the allergy didn’t inform them until the plane was in the air, there’s not much the airline could do about it.

          2. Blackcat*

            I was once on a flight where an undisclosed (to passengers, IDK about the airline) allergy lead to a very dramatic emergency landing and multiple passengers (myself included) handing over our epi-pens to keep someone breathing.

            One thing many people don’t realize is that epi-pens aren’t designed to fully spot an allergic reaction. They’ll wear off after 20 or so minutes, depending on the severity of the reaction. So if it takes an hour to bring a plane down, you end up going through them.

            To actually stop a reaction, you generally need some combination of benedryl and steroids. The point of the epi-pen is to keep you alive long enough to get to the hospital, not actually stop the reaction.

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              They can wear off in as little as 5 minutes even. It’s why I have 2 on me at all times, and I carry a vial and syringe if I’m going anywhere more than 10 minutes from a hospital.
              For anyone who ever ends up in a situation like this, in addition to epi pens, ask if anyone on board has children’s benadryl. Liquid or chewable. If liquid, help them drink it as soon as the first epi pen starts to work. If chewable, crush it and put it under their tongue, until they can swallow it with water. Obviously, at a much higher dose than kids need.
              The children’s version seems to kick in faster, and is easier to administer in an emergency. And chances are good someone on board will have some.

        3. BelleMorte*

          I think also a lot of people aren’t aware that an epi-pen is a temporary band-aid in some situations. It’s meant to give you a few extra minutes to get to a hospital and may not fully shut off the reaction if it’s bad. If you have a huge reaction in the air, even with an epi-pen you still might die.

          I didn’t even realize this until I was at a cabin with a friend who had a major allergic reaction to strawberries after someone picked wild ones and accidently smeared a door handle. She used two epi-pens on the drive to meet the ambulance (1 hour), and still was in full anaphylactic shock when she got to the hospital. Super horrible.

        4. TechWorker*

          I’ve found some airlines are really bad – my friend has a nut allergy, including airborne, and whilst there *was* an announcement on the plane saying they wouldn’t sell nuts, most people just weren’t paying attention and had their own food. I stopped the guy next to me with headphones on from opening his bag of nuts – guess we got lucky?

        5. Le Sigh*

          I definitely don’t consider myself all that well-informed about allergies overall, but I certainly know they can be fatal! At various points in my life people have told me they had allergies that could kill them (useful info since I was eating or cooking around them) … and I just believed them. As you should! I would never presume to know more about someone’s health condition than they do and I think that’s what irritates me the most here.

          And it’s not like you have to know someone closely or do a bunch of scholarly reading. Plenty of shows and movies have depicted fatal allergies! Preaching the choir just … smh.

        6. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Thank you on behalf of everyone with severe allergy, and their families and friends.
          A family member once went to the ER despite the ice cream server opening a brand new nut-free tub and using a new scooper — all it took was heating the scoop in the hot water bath.
          It’s scary.

        7. tangerineRose*

          I’m really surprised that people don’t know that allergies can be fatal or that an epi-pen would always fix the problem. I hadn’t really thought that much about an epi-pen, but I sure wouldn’t assume that it was all that was needed every time to fix an allergic reaction.

        8. Deejay*

          I’ve heard people complain bitterly about nut bans on flights – “Why can’t these people manage their own risks?”.

          Sure, they’ll be happy to just not breathe for a few hours.

    3. Engineer Woman*

      I don’t really have anything to what Momma Bear has said. As a peanut-butter loving individual, I may grumble internally but also keep perspective that I’m actually so fortunate that I get to eat my delicious nuts at home! I’m so sorry you are experiencing this, OP. Don’t apply for the demotion and let these horrible people “win” – pls raise to HR if you’re in the US.

    4. RobotWithHumanHair*

      It’s funny, my daughter in first grade is in a nut-free classroom and has never griped about it once. And, full disclosure, she gripes about EVERYTHING.

      So, basically, my six year old is more mature than these coworkers.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I was born in the mid-1980s and have had a major peanut allergy from birth. I went to school with the same group of kids for 13 years, and most of them weren’t very friendly (I was crossing a class boundary in the upward direction, let’s say). I had a bunch of allergic reactions at school over the years.

        But the number of times I was teased about my allergy in 13 years was zero.

        I did see the other kid with a major peanut allergy get teased about it once – but that was by a teacher.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I’m hoping we had the same teacher because otherwise the number of times a teacher has been a jerk to a kid with peanut allergies is two, and that’s two many.

    5. Isabelle*

      OP’s colleagues are vile. On what basis did they decide it was a “made-up” allergy? People die from allergic reactions. Did they think OP keeps an epipen on hand just for show?

      I would look to leave if I was OP because both the boss and colleagues are immature jerks. Obviously none of this is OP’s fault and it’s unfair but who would want to stay in such an unpleasant environment.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It is, unfortunately, not uncommon for people to decide any allergy that inconveniences them must be “made up.” Or any allergy that might conceivably bring attention to the allergic person (whether or not they would want that kind of attention). Or any allergy they, themselves, do not suffer from.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Oh yes, because it’s suuuuuuuuuper fun to watch everyone eat that tasty pizza the company catered while you get nothing.

        2. Jan*

          And it doesn’t inconvenience them anyway! At least nowhere near as much as it does the allergy sufferer who can have an attack just from the smell.

      2. tiny cactus*

        Got to love the logic that simultaneously believes that going without nuts while at work is an incomprehensible burden, and that one of their coworkers chooses to never eat nuts just because they get a thrill from pretending to have an allergy.

      3. jerk logic*

        There were nuts on OP’s desk and OP is still alive so obviously bringing nuts into the office is fine and therefore OP made the whole allergy up *dripping with sarcasm*

      4. DarnTheMan*

        This is why I tend to downplay my own allergy; I have a very mild one to strawberries but worst case scenario, I get hives and am itchy for a day. I’ve had friends though who are allergic to the point of ‘throat closure/ceasing breathing within seconds of being introduced to the allergen’ and would never want someone comparing my relatively mild reaction to their very severe one if it means they get taken less seriously.

        1. Self Employed*

          Currently you get hives. That could escalate to anaphylaxis if you were careless about avoiding strawberries.

    6. CocoB*

      Allison summed it up well… “Everyone in this situation except you is a ridiculous ass.”
      x 100

      1. Imtheone*

        Allergic reactions can change from time to time. They can suddenly become more severe. That’s one reason that people with mild nut allergies should carry epi-pens (or other brands).

    7. fogharty*

      the lining up of the bars reminded me of the letter where someone was lining up bullets on a co-worker’s desk.

    8. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes, your coworkers are being downright weird about it. And you’ve made it clear that you’re not trying to rain in anyone’s parade by demanding treats to accommodate you, but just wanted people to be aware in case anything ever happens. You’re definitely not none of those attention seekers (but your coworkers’ bullying would still be unacceptable in that case). This is even worse than obnoxious people who make it their mission in life to get you to eat something you said you don’t eat or don’t like something). I have never heard of such bullying over a legitimate food allergy. Shame on your coworkers.

  3. Khai*

    Wow OP your coworkers are assholes. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Most of us are just fine not ENDANGERING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES but then there are…apparently this team.

    Best wishes for you getting this resolved.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      “Most of us are just fine not ENDANGERING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES…”
      Sadly, my newsfeed tells me otherwise. A surprising number of people are outraged at the idea.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        I wonder how much the people who get outraged over allergies overlap with the people who are out protesting mask laws in the time of COVID. It’s a similar line of thinking, along the lines of “I shouldn’t ever have to adjust my own behavior for the welfare of others.”

        1. Quill*

          I mean, the venn diagram is not entirely a circle because there are people who believe only very specific medical facts that line up with something else they believe or experience, but it’s pretty darn close to being a circle.

          1. Ooh La La*

            That also aligns, though. “The risks of COVID are exaggerated” or “COVID is a hoax” is not dissimilar from the “food allergies aren’t real” attitude. If I haven’t experienced it, or if it’s just inconvenient for me to believe, it’s fake.

            1. Quill*

              Oh, I meant the correlation wasn’t perfect because there are definitely some people who believe covid is overblown but have an allergy that has affected their life, and vice versa. There’s just a lot of people who don’t give a flying duck about anything that does not affect them personally.

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          From my own personal experience, the people who don’t bother to try to accommodate my food allergies when there’s a group event also think COVID is overblown. Incidentally, we will likely not be reinstating contact with those folks once this is over.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        I was about to say the same thing. There’s an alarming number of people in the world that just don’t give two shits about other people or their lives at all.

    2. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      This has toxic team written all over it. An obviously toxic manager runs the department. All of the coworkers are vicious, unrepentant, borderline-sociopathic bullies who neither know nor care how decent humans conduct themselves.

      Toxic bosses hire toxic people. They encourage toxicity on their team. Anyone normal hired to manage the toxic people gets pushed out. Any normal human hired to work with the toxic people gets converted or bullied into leaving.

      OP, you have not joined a department; you have fallen into a vat of nuclear waste. Climb out, take a shower, then see if you can get HR to nuke this department from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

      1. MaureenSmith*

        Agreed. Look around, I’m sure you’ll find lots of other toxic behaviours in this group. Cliques, favourites, harassment, etc. For a group of people to think up these various harassing behaviours in a short time, they must have practice (and approval from above).

        Get out of this department, don’t try to be the ‘nice one’.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I agree. And in fact, it reminds me of the toxic team that all got fired because they shut out the person hired to bring expertise to their team. It all came from the top.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Makes me remember the case of a girl who was served regular soda instead of the no sugar she ordered. Long story short, the girl was insulin dependent diabetic and ended in hospital.

      1. Not Australian*

        There was a poor girl who died on a plane flight a year or two back because someone opened a packet of peanuts; her dad got two epipens into her but it wasn’t enough, and they were unable to land in time. IIRC everyone had been warned about not eating peanuts for the duration and they weren’t served, but clearly someone had some in their hand luggage or whatever.

        1. Nic*

          Can you give me a link to that one?

          I can only find a couple of near-misses where people were taken ill after someone ate nuts nearby during the flight, but in both of those cases the plane managed to make an emergency landing and get medical help – and then there was the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a Pret-A-Porter sandwich in the airport (made with sesame seeds in the dough which weren’t mentioned in the ingredients list), and started to suffer anaphylaxis symptoms after the plane took off (her father administered two epipens, but it wasn’t enough).

    4. ThoughtsToday*

      Yeah, I would also say never ever eat anything that these people bring to share because they could put nuts in your food.

  4. Just J.*

    OP – I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I see that Alison has filed this under “Jerks” and “Law + Order”. How absolutely appropriate.

    Have you photographed the Snickers every morning? Have you saved copies (on another hard drive or on paper) of all of your email exchanges with your boss? DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.

    I would also be hunting for an attorney to advise here, in case your HR are also jerks.

    Again, I am so sorry. I would be going ballistic by now and planning to make a huge stink over this.

      1. KA*

        Or, if it’s legal where you are, set up a nanny-cam. This crew sounds like they’d accuse you of putting the Snickers there yourself, especially if they think it’s a “fake allergy”.

      2. JSPA*

        Yes, take pictures, and put the location, time and date stamp on, before you do, as well as turning location on, on your phone. Every time it happens. And email them to yourself (personal account) the moment after.

        DO NOT NANNY CAM!

        Let HR or the police figure that one out, if they see fit, don’t take that upon yourself. It’s a huge can of worms in any workplace / public space, even if it’s not broadly illegal in your state.

    1. Today*

      The Law + Order tag made me think of Jack McCoy charging the team with attempted murder for their foolishness. Donk donk.

      OP, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I hope your HR has a version of [insert your favorite fictional prosecutor] that takes every single one of these people to the woodshed.

  5. Thankful for AAM*

    So many times when I read AAM I wish there were a way to gently “out” companies and managers who behave like this.

    1. Mockingjay*

      To be fair, only this one department under one poor manager seems to be an issue. The OP has worked for this company for 12 years, so presumably the rest of it functions professionally. I’d give HR and the Powers That Be a chance to fix this before posting in Glassdoor.

      1. Mockingjay*

        *One really poor manager whose team members are actively endangering the OP. I don’t want to minimize the seriousness of this immediate problem.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. This is the trash department, but it appears the rest of the company is operating normally. I wonder if HR knew about how crappy this department was – I can’t imagine letting a talented, long-term employee transfer into a dumpster fire without giving them a heads up about what kind of people they would be working with.

        1. hamburke*

          Could have put them there to register a formal complaint that can’t be written off as “this person is a complainer” but I tend to assign additional motives to people so…probably not!

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Nah, that’s too risky – if the behavior gets bad enough, your good employee may decide to just leave the company altogether.

            I pray HR (and OP’s last manager) didn’t know about this. Letting people walk blind into a bad situation suuucks (it’s happened to me before, and I never fully forgave the people who knew and said nothing).

            1. Sacred Ground*

              “if the behavior gets bad enough, your good employee may decide to leave the company altogether.”

              Or sue the company for knowingly putting them in a harassment situation. Kind of defeats HR’s purpose of avoiding/preventing company liability.

            2. Sacred Ground*

              “if the behavior gets bad enough, your good employee may decide to leave the company altogether.”

              Or sue the company for knowingly putting them in a harassment situation. Kind of defeats HR’s purpose of avoiding/preventing company liability.

  6. AnonEMoose*

    OP, please be careful with any food you bring into the office to eat. I would not put it past these people to “test” whether you “really have an allergy” by slipping something into your food, if they’re given the opportunity. I hate to think that way, but it seems warranted here, as their behavior has already been so over-the-top bizarre.

    Please talk to HR; this is a weird and honestly scary situation. And please send us an update!

    1. LALinda*

      It’s hard to add–but don’t leave your epipen in a desk drawer if it’s accessible by your co-workers. Perhaps keep it in a pocket because your co-workers can’t be trusted.

      1. MaureenSmith*

        +2

        Look after your stuff yourself first, the coworkers have proved they CANNOT be trusted with your personal health.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Unfortunately, EpiPens need to be kept at specific temperatures and shouldn’t get too hot, so you shouldn’t keep them right next to your body in a pocket, but rather in a purse or something like that. (They’re also pretty big to fit in a pocket, unless it’s a jacket pocket.)

        Also, if the OP needs their EpiPen, there’s a reasonable chance that it’ll be someone else who needs to use on them rather than them using it on themselves, so it really is a situation where they need to let everyone know where it is in advance, and they need to be in a job where it is safe for them to do that.

        1. AKchic*

          I bought an awesome leather pouch for ren fair that threads onto my belt. I bought a few of them (they come in one and two pen carrying cases) so my stepdad (an EMT on site), my son with the allergy, me, and a guy in the next group over can all carry epipens on us at all times during fair. It wasn’t the cheapest option, but our costumes aren’t cheap either; and it allows us to carry epipens on us discretely at all times in case we need them (the guy in the other group has an allergy, and almost everyone in his group has at least one allergy requiring the use of an EpiPen). I may end up buying more and trying to get a bulk discount because they DO come in handy.

    2. FrenchCusser*

      A ‘friend’ of one of my coworkers knowingly fed her gluten (lying to her about it) and made her sick for days.

      I think I was madder about it than she was – I wanted to sit on the guy and punch him in the face.

      It’s not anyone’s business what you eat! Even if it’s just a preference, no one has the right to force feed anyone anything. But ESPECIALLY something that could make them sick or even KILL them.

      1. Rae*

        Oh, the tried and true “Just testing to make SURE you have the food allergy/intolerance you said because I don’t believe you” person. Close friend to “I know you said you hate this ingredient but I hid it in the food anyway muahahaha” guy.

        1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

          My parents know someone who died this way. He had a nut allergy, back in the 80s, when people were less aware. A guy at the factory brought in cookies his wife made and offered one to my parents’ friend. He asked if it had nuts. The guy looked at it, flipped it over, didn’t see nuts, and said no.

          It turned out there were ground-up walnuts in the flour.

          My parents’ friend didn’t normally work in the factory, and his epi pen (or 80s equivalent, which I think was just a syringe) was back in an adjoining building. He died on the floor of the breakroom. Three kids. Wife who didn’t work. The guy who gave him the cookie was a wreck. Quit his job. Couldn’t work for a while.

          I’ve gone to the hospital with someone in anaphylaxis. People are dumb and think, hey, you eat some nuts, you give yourself a shot from the epi pen and shake it off. Nope. The epi pen just is a way to up your odds of staying alive long enough to get to the ER for a whole bunch more exciting shots and a mix of uppers to keep your heart going and downers to stop you from being climbing the walls, sick as a dog but still massively coked out. It looks agonizing and utterly miserable.

          When I hear about people who knowingly expose people to allergens, it is hard for me to stay on the Godly side of the site commenting rules. Especially knowing there are people who pull this with little kids.

          1. SallyJ*

            I am allergic to something not yet identified. It is a wild weed of some kind. I have been in anaphylaxis. Twice. Its horrible and scary and painful and not funny at all.

            1. Carlie*

              One of the symptoms of anaphylaxis is “a sense of impending doom”. Ir sounds funny, but there really isn’t a much better way to describe it. It’s like the primal nonverbal part of your brain responsible for monitoring your body is doing everything it can to alert you that you are about to die. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
              (I have had about 5 anaphylaxis events, but only the doom twice.)

              1. NeonFireworks*

                It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced, and like absolutely nothing else I’ve been through.

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  For me it’s literally the exact same feeling as the “sense of impending doom” I get from panic attacks. I make jokes about having concept allergies, but only with my therapist.

                2. JB (not in Houston)*

                  Same. I’ve had several anaphylaxis events, but I’ve only experienced that particular fun once. I do not wish to repeat it.

                3. Blackcat*

                  Yep. What’s weird about it when it’s happened to me is that it’s not panic in my case. It’s just this sense to the core of my being that I’m going to die.
                  The second time, I knew both the feeling and that I would *not* die. It was accidental in my house. I’m not even 2000ft from the nearest fire department. <1mi to a fantastic ER. I epi-pened myself, called 911, and tried to assure my husband that I *would be fine* all while that primal part of my brain was calmly saying deep down "you're going to die."
                  It's wild. How evolution would have given us a "you're gonna die" alarm, I have no idea.

                  (And I was fine, several rounds of steroids and 400!! mg of benadyl later.)

              2. Amaranth*

                My daughter had that reaction to a ‘lavender latte’ a few weeks ago. One sip had her tongue numb and she had trouble breathing. We weren’t sure if it was anaphylaxis or a panic attack but were on the way to the E.R. when it cleared up. We hunted down the ‘other natural ingredients’ in the flavoring and think it was spirulina – which apparently nobody has ever reported being allergic to. We’re trying to get an appointment with an allergist for one of the ‘stick tests’ but have no idea if that will even be an option for testing.

                1. KoiFeeder*

                  Lavender is a… common-ish? allergen, specially in people who already have certain pollen or perfume allergies.

                  People can be allergic to anything, so it could well be spirulina! But I’ve also heard that people with mast cell activation syndrome can’t eat it because it strongly exacerbates their symptoms, which makes me wonder if it’s possible that spirulina + mild allergen = more severe allergic reaction.

                  In the name of science, I’m going to go try a coconut spirulina smoothie. If I die, I die.

          2. Atlantian*

            I don’t know if all doctors require it, but before I got my first Epi-Pen prescription, my allergist made me sign a statement that said if I ever administered it to myself or someone else who needed it, I would make sure the nest thing that happened was that 911 was called and the person who got the shot was taken to the ER immediately. If I had had a legal spouse at the time, he would have had to sign it as well. As it was, I just had a live in fiancé, who they strongly suggested I read the same riot act to once I got the scrip filled, but they couldn’t require him to sign anything.

            1. Claudia*

              Yup. My husband is a teacher and one of the younger students has a life-threatening nut allergy (not just peanuts, but all nuts). When she first enrolled in the school, her mother informed all the teachers and administrators that, if her child ever had an allergic reaction, they were to 1. Administer EpiPen, 2. Call 911, and only then 3. Call the parents.

              1. Amaranth*

                Are teachers now trained how to use epi-pens in any formal way or do administrations figure they’ll look it up on youtube?

                1. funtastic allergies*

                  Epi-pens are pretty straight forward to use and usually have the instructions on the pen itself — not sure they’d need extra training? But who knows nowadays.

                2. Quinalla*

                  I’ve always asked all the teachers, daycare workers and school nurse if they know how to use epipens for my daughter. The ones that haven’t, I trained them personally. Most already knew, but a few did not. It is so much more common now with so many kids having allergies that most teachers have been maybe not officially trained, but shown by someone by now. Daycares have a lot of turnover, so you will still run into newer employees there who don’t know.

                3. Lexie*

                  Not a teacher but spent years working with kids. “Formal” epi-pen training takes about five minutes and the instructions are right on it. It is designed to be very easy.

                4. My Dear Wormwood*

                  I’m a volunteer leader in a bushwalking (hiking) club and we’re trained to administer epipens. And then to immediately set off our emergency beacon to get a rescue helicopter asap.

                5. Alice's Rabbit*

                  Depends on the school and the district. My kid’s school requires that all staff be trained, even janitorial and cafeteria workers, because you never know who will be on hand in am emergency.
                  Yes, epi pens have clear instructions on the side. But in a real life-or-death situation, people panic. Especially if they have never practiced the action before. Practice, however, not only teaches them how to use the pen, but also about the instructions on the side.

      2. Anon for this*

        Your coworker’s ‘friend’ (intense airquotes) should be in the running for the Jerk of the Century award. He was basically poisoning her! I would have been as mad as you.

        I have celiac disease and if one of my coworkers did this to me I would quit. If he did it once who’s to say it would ever happen again?

        1. Sparrow*

          Even if it wasn’t a malicious “I am going to give you gluten because I don’t believe this is a big deal” but a “I was too lazy to check all the ingredients and didn’t warn you” situation, I would steer well clear of them. Yikes.

      3. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

        The thing is, some coeliacs don’t necessarily have violent reactions to gluten every time, or their reaction may be hours later, so this jerk want proving anything.

        My sister found out she was coeliac because she was tested by mistake … Someone at the practice had meant to tick the box for the hypothyroid test ( turned out she has that too). She had never felt ill from eating wheat, but was still at risk of bowel cancer as an undiagnosed coeliac.

        Some people hate the idea of anybody getting any kind of special accommodation.

        1. many bells down*

          Yeah, my husband used to get a blistery skin rash, and have intestinal problems, but the skin rash could be a week later, and even the bowel problems weren’t usually instantaneous. In fact, he accidentally ate something with wheat a couple weeks ago (he bought the food in question and just forgot to check ingredients) and it wasn’t until the next day that he was unwell. If I hadn’t noticed the package we’d never have known what he ate.

          1. Hazel*

            I don’t have celiac disease, but I’m extremely sensitive to wheat and… who knows what else. Sometimes I’ll be sick, and I’ll know exactly what caused it, and that’s on me for having a cocktail or too much sugar or something I know has the potential to bother my stomach. But other times, as far as I know, I haven’t eaten anything I shouldn’t, so I don’t know what’s causing the stomach pain. And if the symptoms don’t show up right away, which they usually don’t, it’s hard to figure it out. My next step is to get my gall bladder checked.

            1. nonegiven*

              Cross contamination if you’re really sensitive. I know when I use flour, it gets all over. If I needed to cook for anyone like that, I’d have to clean the kitchen and wash all the pans and utensils before I did it, and that’s assuming none of the ingredients got cross contaminated in the factory. And then you’d have to know that most oats are contaminated with wheat because how many people really knew that, so what else might be?

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Up thread someone talked about the peppercorn allergy. Somehow I had never looked it up. There are digestive symptoms as well as the mouth allergy and irritation. Ithe sounds a lot like my “nope it’s not celiac” issues.
              See you at the allergists…

            3. WS*

              My cousin grew up with a wheat allergy in the 1980s (as well as a nut allergy) and that was very hard for him and his parents. He’s doing much better these days now that there’s so much gluten-free food available, even though his allergy isn’t actually to the gluten.

          2. Kt*

            I am not celiac probably but I’m certainly allergic and these days it takes about the days for symptoms to the wheat (face hurts, skin hurts, intestinal problems, emotional dysregulation for two-three days). So nothing would happen in the moment but it really messes up my week.

          3. Alice's Rabbit*

            Given that the reaction is the gluten physically arriving in the intestines, and said intestines freaking out about it, yeah, that can take time to occur. Especially if it’s the lower section of his intestines are the most sensitive to it. Average person takes 24 hours to digest a meal, after all.

    3. I'm just here for the cats*

      My same thoughts! Also, Coffee and water bottles. I could totally see someone put a bit of peanut butter in the mug when she was not looking.

  7. kittymommy*

    Ahh the irony that I am reading this while eating Jif peanut butter out of a squeeze tube.

    LW, your co-workers are acting liking toddlers and your boss is a jerk.

      1. JustaTech*

        And almond butter and fancy organic-brand nutella (not Nutella-brand nutella).
        The ones in my grocery store are Justin’s brand.

      2. Alice's Rabbit*

        Yes. They also sell little tubs of it, like a generous sandwich amount. This is wonderful for me, as I’m allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but my son loves a good PB&J. I can pack bread, a packet of jam, and a tub of peanut butter, and he can make his own sandwich later.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I asked him to withdraw the email and explained again the reasons it was not necessary. He refused, saying his decision was final and it will not be changed — he’s “not getting sued for something like this” — and literally walked away from his desk.

      I love the irony that OP’s boss thinks that this overreaction will prevent a lawsuit, when it reads like it’s more likely to create a lawsuit where none would otherwise exist!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        But-but-but… if the email is the truth and not snark, then why isn’t the boss following up with the harassment that is going on? The boss’ walk does not match his walk. He is in on this, 100%. He’s toxic.

  8. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

    I go into full anaphylaxis if I come into contact with Tylenol/Panadol. Yet because it’s a medication and not a food, nobody bats an eye. And peanut allergies can be way worse, has NO ONE in that department ever seen a full blown reaction?

    1. Observer*

      The OP has a nut allergy, not a peanut allergy – not the same thing.

      It’s actually quite possible that no one has seen a full blown reaction – most people with allergies this severe tend to be VERY careful and that has the side effect of sparing people the sight of these events.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Exactly! Like, where is the sympathy? When I was young, a girl who attended my camp the week after me with her parents (a physician and a nurse) passed away even after 3 epi-pen administrations because someone had made brownies for the campers in a pan that had PB bars made in it before. Allergies can make you feel so helpless.

      2. irene*

        i was wondering if it was tree nuts or peanuts myself…

        because if it’s actually a *tree* nut allergy and they’re pulling this nonsense with peanuts? ho-ly cow. what a bunch of asses.

        my nephew is 3.5y and severely allergic to tree nuts, from when he was born. (unfortunately, not discovered until he was nearly a year old) we have to be really strict about processed food that may be in the same factory as nuts – like, down to “he can eat plain M&Ms from the giant bags OR peanut m&ms in the individual packages, but not the halloween-size ones at all” because the candies are processed in different factories for different kinds of wrappers/containers. he hasn’t actually ingested any tree nuts since we pinpointed the allergy, but he regularly has reactions because of dust/oils. he had a hive on his retina at one point, and my sister’s worried that if he gets another, he’ll lose his vision in that eye….

        (of course the grandparents are lackadaisical about the allergy, and my BIL’s mom kept sending over cookies with all kinds of almonds and walnuts and pistachios because she decided homemade foods couldn’t be allergens…)

        but as long as peanut butter isn’t processed in the same factory as almond butters, he’s clear to eat it! and he loves it.

        1. Observer*

          Snickers have peanuts but also nougat which is made with nuts.

          In any case stupid, idiotic and cruel.

        2. TiffIf*

          I have a niece who is allergic to nuts–I don’t live near them so last year when I was making some homemade baked goods for her birthday I asked my sister 1) what exactly she was allergic to and 2) if I should buy fresh ingredients to avoid cross contamination because a lot of my baking ingredients sit on the same shelf in my pantry–so the brown sugar sits on the same shelf as the almond flour etc. so not something I would purposefully cross contaminate but I couldn’t absolutely guarantee it. She told me what niece was allergic to but that all new ingredients was not necessary. I cooked the goods and mailed them and there were no issues.

          I can understand someone being lackadaisical about it if it isn’t at the forefront of their thoughts every day –but it isn’t that hard to ask or document these things so you can reference it later!

        3. Cedarthea*

          My cousin’s main reaction to tree nuts was eyeball hives, (and then breathing issues). He was exposed a few times in childhood and not so much as an adult, but he has had no consequences to his vision due to eyeball hives.

          So one anecdote is not data, but I can say that eyeball hives seem to not have consequences on vision in the long run.

      3. Rainy*

        I have several allergies that give me basically the worst gastro symptoms ever until it’s out of my intestines, and then I feel terrible for a week or two until it clears completely out of my system. People mostly don’t see the effects of reactions like that because when I realize I’ve been exposed, I go home so I can long for the sweet release of death on my own toilet.

        I’m also allergic to some broad classes of food because they cause a type of migraine that must be avoided at all costs, as the correlation with fatal stroke is very high. When I’m exposed to one of those, I have 20 minutes to get somewhere dark and quiet, and I will literally just drop everything and run.

        The problem with allergy deniers is, as you say, that they mostly don’t ever see a reaction they consider serious enough, because if you know you have an allergy, you will do whatever it takes to avoid it, and if you do get exposed, to immediately treat it or get to the hospital.

      4. DataGirl*

        There can be a lot of cross over between nut allergy and peanut allergy- at least I personally am allergic to both. Like OP, it’s not airborne so I can be around people eating either, but if I consume nuts/peanuts (or a bunch of other things, yay me) I’ll have a reaction somewhere between GI distress/IBS symptoms and full anaphylaxis, depending on the allergen. Thankfully though my co-workers are SUPER attentive and take allergies seriously and always ask any new people about allergies and other dietary restrictions before planning anything involving food.

        1. Observer*

          There can be a lot of cross over between nut allergy and peanut allergy

          Actually, not that much. Of course, many people are allergic to more than one thing, and there is no reason it can’t be (as in your case) tree nuts and peanuts. But according to my son’s allergist tree nuts and peanuts are not really a highly common cluster. Much more common is almonds / nuts (Not everyone who is allergic to almonds is allergic to all nuts, interestingly) and non-citrus fruit like peaches and plums.

          However, if an allergist is in the diagnostic phase, they are always going to look at the entire list of common allergens (and both tree nuts and peanuts are highly common allergens) because you never know which things someone is allergic to. And it would be mighty stupid to not test for peanuts because “peanut allergies don’t go with tree nut allergy” and vice versa.

          1. Self Employed*

            Peaches and plums are very closely related to almonds–if you’ve ever compared an unshelled almond and a peach pit, that’s not too surprising. Almonds on the tree look like peaches that didn’t develop right. Plums are related to peaches (and apricots and nectarines) even though they look less like them than almond fruits do.

      5. Alice's Rabbit*

        Peanuts and tree nuts have similar enough protein structures that many people who are allergic to one are also allergic to the other. Or develop the other allergy later.
        When in doubt, best to avoid both, until you clarify with the person themselves.

    2. Stephanie*

      My son is allergic to peanuts, and I have never seen a full-blown reaction. He was diagnosed with it when he was three, and he’s nineteen now. He hasn’t had a full anaphylactic episode because we have been very careful, and very lucky.
      It is possible to understand how serious a food allergy can be without having to actually see a serious, full blown reaction. Some people are just jerks about food-related stuff.

      1. MarsJenkar*

        It is indeed possible. I have no food allergies that I know of, and the only person I know with a potential allergy is someone who seems to have a mild reaction to certain shellfish (and even that, I’m not certain of). I still know better than to tamper with others’ food for any reason. The coworkers’ reactions mystify and disgust me.

      2. TiffIf*

        I have a severe latex allergy–it was discovered very dramatically when I was 7 years old –I had an anaphylactic reaction that caused my heart to stop during surgery. I haven’t had a reaction that bad in nearly 30 years (and hope to continue avoiding one) but I have had less dramatic reactions (though still potentially serious) when exposed unknowingly. Of particular concern is food prepped with latex gloves. (I’ve had my face swell up for days, I’ve had tingly/itchy throat, mouth and lips, but haven’t had a repeat of my heart stopping.)

        1. Hosta*

          Hey, uh, just in case no one warned you – be careful with avocados and bananas. About half of people with latex allergies develop reactions to them. Tomatoes, strawberries, plums and kiwis can also be a problem.

          1. Lucien Nova*

            Mango, as well. Mango shares proteins with avocado and banana that are also very similar to a chemical chain in latex.

  9. nonprofit writer*

    I love the way Alison clarifies that actually 2nd graders would never behave this way… it’s really true. Kids are very tuned in to allergies and very conscientious about it. My son always reminds me about his friends’ allergies (even though as a general rule I never ever give any nuts to any kid because allergies are just so prevalent.) These grown adults are being awful.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      Yes! I worked in a summer camp years ago and our meal provider had a peanut butter substitute made of from something else (sunflower seeds, maybe?). We had to take it off the menu because the kids flew into an extreme panic when they saw it on a sandwich for the first time, thinking it was peanut butter and knowing that could be a huge problem for others in the group (even if there was no known peanut allergy in the group).

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, every class I was in or volunteered with that had a severe food allergy also had other small children acting as the allergen defense squad. Sometimes it was peanut butter. Sometimes it was wasps. The wasps were a LOT harder to deal with children attempting to defend a friend from.

    2. The Original K.*

      Yep. I have the same allergy OP does and my friends’ kids are so aware of allergies in general, and nut allergies specifically. They will ask me if I have an Epi-Pen (I do) because they know someone with one.

    3. Southern Ladybug*

      Exactly. When my son was in 4k a classmate of his had a very serious allergy to nuts. He couldn’t have his favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. One convo with the class, “nuts could make X and X very sick,” and ALL the kids were like, “ok!”. (parents did want people to know for safety – not sharing health info inappropriately)

    4. Harper the Other One*

      Yep, my daughter’s kindergarten class had a child who had a severe dairy allergy – skin contact could actually prompt anaphylaxis for him. They asked parents not to send yoghurt tubes, since it was almost impossible to avoid the risk of 5-year-olds spraying it around, and asked for volunteers who’d be willing to sit at a milk-free table. The kids were totally fine with it, including my kids who basically lived on ham slices and yoghurt.

      1. DarthVelma*

        I am moderately lactose intolerant and I would’ve happily sat at the milk-free table. (I literally had to throw up on a teacher’s shoes to convince the school not to force me to drink milk.)

    5. HS teacher*

      Yep. I think since allergies are more commonplace there is more general knowledge about them. Granted, I teach high school, but I’ve never had an issue with students purposefully using allergies to taunt or harm another kid.

    6. ThePear8*

      Seriously! My sister found out as a 2nd grader that she had an allergy to red food dye, it wasn’t necessarily life-threatening but it would cause her to break out in terrible hives and swelling all over. Every birthday party or social gathering attended, that meant she wasn’t allowed to have any red velvet cake, maraschino cherries, red frosting, or fruit punch. People were fine about it! No one made a fuss about scraping off some red frosting for her or finding an alternative snack. No one was ever such a huge jerk about it or taunted her or insisted she had to eat red cake. If it can be dealt with at a child’s birthday party, it certainly can be handled in a professional setting and yes these people are immature bullies for not being able to.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        There is a recipe for red velvet cake that gets the color from a reaction between cocoa powder and boiling water, no food coloring.
        Though red velvet cake is not a necessity of life…. sigh.

        1. ThePear8*

          Oh that’s fascinating, I haven’t heard of that method. I do know there are substitutes though, I’ve also heard of substituting in beet juice for color. When I’ve baked it myself though I’ve honestly just omitted the dye entirely, it’s purely cosmetic and doesn’t affect the taste.
          But yeah, it isn’t a necessity, and it’s definitely much easier to avoid than more commonplace allergens…all the more reason though for people to be accommodating of allergies and handle it maturely instead of being jerks about it like OPs coworkers.

          1. Alice's Rabbit*

            Beet juice was the original colorant. Food coloring is the alternate, mostly because it’s easier to get that vibrant color with less effort. But beet juice has been used to dye cakes for centuries.
            But if you don’t bleach the cocoa first (like Dancing Otter talks about) you end up using a gross-tasting amount of food coloring. The head chef at my college cafeteria found that one out the hard way, using industrial strength food coloring.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          Right, that’s the original recipe and reason why it got the name. The addition of food coloring to make it even redder is a relatively recent thing (and cheating if you ask me).

      2. nonegiven*

        I make red velvet cake without the food coloring because I don’t want my counters stained and it tastes fine without it.

    7. NeonFireworks*

      I said this above, but yeah. I was a child who didn’t really have any friends, and still no one was a jerk about my bad allergy, or about the other kids’ allergies. The only time I saw someone else in a classroom teased about an allergy, it was a teacher doing it.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      Yeah, I had a classmate with a fatal peanut allergy and I don’t remember any of us really being annoyed or put out by it. I mean, we all knew that he could die, none of us wanted that!

      The teachers, though… Some of them were not excellent role models.

      1. PVR*

        The thing I don’t understand about the parents who are so put out over not getting to send peanut butter is—do they really want their kid to watch a friend go into anaphylaxis? To watch them go to the hospital and maybe die? To carry the weight of that responsibility that they harmed a classmate however unintentionally?? It doesn’t come down to the well being of their own child at all, more the inconvenience to themselves of what to pack for lunch.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          In some cases, I think there’s a bit more to it. For lower income families, peanut butter can be a cheap and convenient source of protein, and having to come up something else can be a financial concern as well as an additional mental load. Which isn’t to say some of it isn’t entitlement, but it can be a more complicated issue than it seems.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            I went to quaker school with that kid; the church let the school run itself and didn’t get involved in things (or there would have been some teachers/admins fired, frankly) but students and their families who needed assistance often got it from the church even if they didn’t attend the church themselves. There were several fundraisers and meal trains that I can remember, and I wasn’t particularly attentive to that sort of thing.

            And to be fair, in my case I have no recollection of the parents acting up about allergies- I only remember that one teacher being awful about it.

          2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            Cheap, quick, high protein, yummy, filling, doesn’t need refrigeration, often acceptable for the pickiest of kids. It’s pretty much the perfect food for a busy family, if allergies aren’t in the picture. I eat a peanut butter (and Nutella!) sandwich for breakfast every day because it is a convenient and nutritious thing to eat.

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              Yup. And when kids don’t get protein for lunch, they can get hangry in the afternoon. If the kid doesn’t like eggs, and you can’t afford lunch meat, you don’t have a lot of options.

    9. Ellen N.*

      Yes, I believe that many children enjoy protecting their friends and classmates. It feels to them like they are being trusted with an important, adult responsibility.

      1. Bingo*

        Yes! Plus, kids live with all kinds of rules and restrictions. It’s easy for them to accept the clearly well-reasoned ones, like “don’t eat nuts here because it might put your classmate in the hospital,” when they also have to follow lots of other rules that might not make sense or be fully explained to them.

        Adults, on the other hand…we’re way too into Our Freedoms.

    10. ???*

      Seriously! K-8 we had 2 kids in our class with severe nut allergies (along with a few others), and as kids we just rolled with it. We learned to administer epi-pens and to bring in allergen-free treats; it really was not a big deal. Funny story though (and maybe counter-intuitive to the spirit of this post) – one of the kids was allergic to certain cleaning supplies, so when we had to clean our desks, he would leave the room whle someone cleaned his for him. Only once we graduated did he finally confess he’d been made up the allergy and been conning us for years to get out of cleaning his desk. He was allergic to so many other things, he wanted to see if he we’d believe it, and we did! (The kid was literally allergic to grass and some other common things so none of us – teachers included – questioned it when he said he was allergic to cleaning chemicals. Honestly, we weren’t even mad, just impressed he’d managed to pull it off for 9 years!)

      1. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

        My mom was allergic to grass, and sun, to a lesser extent. Walking barefoot outside made whatever part of her feet touched the blades (so soles, ankles, toes) erupt in a red rash. And too much sun ( but much much much less than most people enjoy safely) also broke her out.

        My nephew cannot tolerate rice. He’s A normal rowdy boy normally, but if he eats some of his sisters food with rice flour (as she is sensitive to gluten) his mom can tell because that’s the only time he’s aggressive and lashes out. Strange, and they’ll have fun explaining that in later years.

    11. many bells down*

      When I was in elementary school in the 80s/90s I got bullied a fair amount for my nut allergy–kids would taunt/threaten me very similarly to what the OP describes here. Nut allergies weren’t unheard of at the time but were not as widespread; we didn’t school-wide nut ban or even an allergy-free table. Teachers were relatively blase too; I remember one served a dessert that had a peanut component and she just told me to eat around the nuts (IIRC correctly it was a chocolate cake shaped like a teddy bear and the face/paws were PB-flavored).

      So it doesn’t surprise me one whit that these people, who are presumably about the same age as my former classmates would be, are being such assh*les.

  10. Miss Muffet*

    Surprised not to see a link to that letter where the coworkers smeared PB under the writer’s desk… or was that not on AAM?

    1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      What the living hell?! I’d rather have feces on my desk than an allergen. Good gosh, that’s absolutely verging on a hate crime.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        I found this follow up, looks like it may have been a WaPo advice column? It gives pretty reasonable information as to what to do from various points of view (legal, etc.)

        https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/remember-that-allergic-worker-whose-desk-was-smeared-with-peanut-butter/2016/11/01/5bd61822-8b2a-11e6-875e-2c1bfe943b66_story.html

        My peanut allergic kid’s school handled a “situation” (an in-shell peanut appeared in the pocket of her backpack. We don’t have any peanuts in our house as a safeguard, but she knows what they look like and immediately went to her teacher. The backpack never went to the cafeteria, just the bus and classroom, which were peanut and nut free zones) extremely well. They called me to come GET the backpack so she wouldn’t have to carry it, they sanitized everything that was in the backpack with hard surfaces, bagged up anything with a soft surface so they could be washed, loaned her a backpack to get home, and first and foremost, made certain that SHE was OKAY. They also sent home an all school reminder about classrooms being nut and peanut free, and that placement of those two allergenic foods into the possessions of others fell under the “bullying rules” and thus would receive “bullying infraction punishments”. And without naming names, they went over the fact that this was absolutely unacceptable treatment of a classmate.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Is that the one where the MIL adds mushroom powder to everything on purpose because the LW was allergic to mushrooms? That one ended up in Dear Prudence and Ask Amy, I think, too.

      1. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

        Yes, I found it on several different sites..it seemed to shock every advice columnist out there, and rightly so!

      1. Ally McBeal*

        If you love Ask Polly, have you read the Dear Sugar archives (aka Cheryl Strayed before she became mega-famous) on The Rumpus? They’re SO good, I think she’s Polly’s spiritual mother.

          1. Ally McBeal*

            Yes, Cheryl Strayed as in Wild. Her book came out several years after she began answering letters as Dear Sugar, so you get to read her in an even more raw and unfiltered version of her memoir. It’s gutwrenching and beautiful – I read them while going through a catastrophic family crisis and personal life upheaval about a decade ago and it was lifechanging.

            Dear Sugar also had a second life as the podcast Dear Sugars (she got a co-host) but I’m not as familiar with that. I’m sure it’s wonderful.

    2. HR Bee*

      I just don’t get this. Like OMG. My husband’s parents had three boys and all three of the boys’ wives have some sort of food allergy/intolerance. I am allergic to berries (raspberries, blackberries, etc), SIL1 is allergic to CHOCOLATE of all things, and SIL2 is lactose-intolerant. None of these allergies are life-threatening to any of us. We all have mild, rash/breakout type reactions (or pretty violent stomach issues for SIL2). Even still, my in-laws go above and beyond to accommodate us all. And needless to say, they just don’t ever serve dessert and they make or order special dishes to ensure SIL2 can eat at their home (like seriously do you have any idea how much dairy is in EVERYTHING).

      My son’s best friend and neighbor has multiple allergies, tree nuts (but not peanuts), milk, and soy among others. I don’t let my son go outside with food. I don’t let him see his friend without washing his hands and brushing his teeth first. I went out and bought special toys so he can trick-or-treat at our house. Its just common courtesy to not TRY TO KILL OTHER PEOPLE.

      I just can’t even IMAGINE going this far. Like what in the actual eff!?

      1. Robin Sparkles*

        Same in my family – we have two people lactose intolerant, two vegetarians, two diabetics, two fish and shellfish allergies – and somehow we make it work! My parents and my in-laws manage to serve meals that accommodate all of these allergies, preferences, and sensitivities without ever complaining -even in frustration because they have to change a family recipe. Because that’s what people with some semblance of caring do!

        JFC almighty I can’t even understand how there are this many people in one place acting like monsters!

      2. Silvermoonlight*

        Quick tip: A great source of dairy-free desserts are East Asian desserts, such as Chinese and Japanese desserts. Look into dessert soups such as red bean, green bean, taro, and tofu dessert soups. They are almost always dairy free and use sugar, flowers (jasmine, chrysanthemum), honey, and tea, for flavor. Delicious AND healthy! :)

        1. Rainy*

          If he’s allergic to soy, the tofu desserts will cause a reaction. Depending on how allergic he is to soy, the red bean and green bean desserts will as well.

          1. Silvermoonlight*

            This was in response to the need for dairy-free/lactose-free desserts specifically that the above commenter mentioned. Obviously, if nut allergies are an issue, there would need to be other adjustments.

            1. Rainy*

              Ah; we were responding to two different portions of the comment.

              My son’s best friend and neighbor has multiple allergies, tree nuts (but not peanuts), milk, and soy among others.

        2. HR Bee*

          Thank you! My lactose-intolerant SIL is actually Asian (specifically Thai) so she has prepared desserts from her culture that she and the rest of us have been able to eat too.

          Rainy, the soy allergy is a different person that the lactose-intolerant though he does have an allergy to milk too. Very confusing. I know!

          Thanks all for all the suggestions!

        3. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

          Also look for kosher recipes.

          Recipes labeled “meat” or “pareve” don’t have any dairy (because of the prohibition against mixing meat and milk in the same meal) and often use clever substitutions.

          Recipes that are “kosher for passover” won’t have any soy in them.

          And of course, vegan recipes are also dairy.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      OMG! What awful people. “Yelling that I was overreacting and that mushrooms are “not a poison.”

      Except that actually it is now thought that of the approximately 100,000 known fungi species found worldwide, about 100 of them are poisonous to humans. And that is aside from this person, who is allergic to all types.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Speaking as a person with a mercifully not anaphylactic mushroom allergy, I can tell you I am in no hurry to explore whether I am allergic to *all* of the mushroom types in the world; similarly, those of us allergic to shellfish (crustaceans) are advised not to try edible invertebrates such as crickets.

        In addition, with mushrooms it would be totally normal for a kitchen to use the same brush or board for all mushroom types. Cross-contamination is a bitch (I don’t eat cooked hotel breakfast, for example).

        When you’re declaring an allergy, it’s usually safer to assume everything in a class is dangerous (even though some people can manage an ingredient thoroughly cooked but not raw, for example, because chemistry). It’s not fun finding out that you were wrong to take the risk.

  11. Phony Genius*

    If the boss is not misinterpreting company policy, and this really is the company’s rule, then there’s a whole different layer of problems here. I’m not sure what to say if that’s the case, but that’s what lawyers are for.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I doubt it’s the company’s actual policy since OP has been with the company for 12 years and never had a manager pass down this edict. Or maybe it is, but the other managers had enough since to know that this policy should be reviewed on a case by case basis, especially when the allergy sufferer themselves says, no, all nuts don’t need to be banned because my allergy isn’t airborne.

    2. Ellen N.*

      I think the boss may have said that it’s the company policy because he knew what jerks his team members are and didn’t want lots of “slip ups” with nuts.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        And yet if he really sincerely intended to keep OP safe, the Snickers incident would’ve resulted in a huge crackdown….and yet it continues.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I can almost bet that it is NOT company policy, because Boss allows this to go on and on. I can’t believe he does not know what is happening.

  12. SallyJ*

    Awww. I will say as an aside, in case it helps, that I just came from a department in Big Corporation that treated each other so poorly. I find I am still dealing with the office PTSD from all of that. I never realized how bad those people over there made me feel about myself though! I am a capable, nice, professional woman, and they made me feel like I was dumb and useless every single day. Snide remarks. Exclusions from things. Talking down to me. People below me in hierarchy too! It wasn’t even personal either! They treated each other this way too. It set off my anxiety and imposter syndrome. I definitely learned though that I not cut out for that type of environment at all though. I cannot handle petty immature people as they obviously severely affect my mental health.

  13. CatCat*

    I do not understand why some people have such strong feelings about stuff like this.

    Like your afternoon Nutter Butter is more important than someone’s life? I don’t get it.

    1. Elliott*

      I know, right? Some people get strangely defensive and entitled about things like this. How important can nuts be to the office culture?

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      And it’s usually the people who are normally meh about tree nuts/peanuts/strawberries/shell fish/gluten/perfume/cats etc. to begin with. It’s only when told they can’t have them in the office that SUDDENLY they MUST have a [peanut butter sandwich] everyday, just to prove a point that they can’t be told what to do.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        On a related note, I strongly believe that if anti-maskers had been told “a mask might reduce your chance of contacting Covid, but you’re not allowed to wear one into Target,” those people would be rioting in the streets over their right to wear a mask.

      2. TootsNYC*

        or when they’re told they MUST wear a mask.

        “I’m an American–you can’t tell me what to do.”

          1. DarnTheMan*

            There’s an independent grocer near me that has a very polite sign outside stating that everyone who enters the store must wear a mask and if you have a medical condition that prohibits you from wearing a mask (since that seems to be the default for anti-maskers in my city), to please call the number on the sign and they’d arrange to collect your order and meet you at the door with the order and a payment machine.

    3. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      Seriously. Like, they can go home after work and eat ALL the nuts, every night, for the rest of their lives if they want to, if it’s that GD important to them! But oh, no, if they can’t have nuts any time
      and anywhere they feel like it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, they are the most downtrodden, put upon, poor little babies in the world, and it’s just NOT FAIR! *whine* UGH. I never met these people, but I hate their guts. Them, and the toxic in-laws in the Ask Polly letter and the evil MIL in the Carolyn Hax letter mentioned in other threads here.

      How in the AF does anyone in this day and age NOT know that food allergies are a very real and very serious thing? Argh. Hulk smash!

    4. Some Lady*

      I’ll admit that when we had to temporarily ban nuts for a few weeks to accommodate a program participant I suddenly had more cravings for Pad Thai than I ever had before or since. But I just ate it when I went home!

  14. Paloma Pigeon*

    I’m very tired of food allergies being treated as a joke. Hopefully it will slowly fade as more individuals enter the workforce who grew up with FA protocols in school and won’t bat an eye over something like this at work.

      1. Alexander Graham Yell*

        Right? I’m a big fan of putting an ingredient list alongside any food I bring in and I love it when people are clear about what they can’t have because it’s just an act of common decency and like…base-level caring about another human being to not endanger them.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes, my company (in the before times) had a cake sale in aid of Macmillan (cancer charity) most years and everyone who baked something provided a list of main ingredients. There was also usually a fresh fruit plate (provided by someone who didn’t bake) for people who wanted to support the charity but didn’t want to take any risks.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              My children’s school usually has a Macmillan coffee morning. They discreetly set aside specially prepared cakes or where necessary provide factory-made wrapped guaranteed-allergen-free treats for the children whose allergies they know about.

              1. Artemesia*

                I am asst leader of my granddaughter’s scout troop — we always have packaged snacks for the two or three girls in the troop who have special dietary issues. We have one with celiac and one with a nut allergy and one who is diabetic — all three always have treats they can eat provided.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Oh and you know what really endears a cook to an allergy sufferer? When they save all the wrappers so you can check for yourself – because they don’t assume they know as much about your allergy as you do.

          We’re lucky in Europe that major allergens have to be explicitly and clearly labelled on packaging, eg in an ingredients list “fish sauce (contains CRUSTACEANS)”.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Really, it’s a lack of empathy, and I think the US has shown pretty clearly that we suffer from a distinct lack of empathy and caring about other people, even minimally.

  15. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “Is he aware of the harassment you’re experiencing from the rest of the team?”

    As the boss, he’s responsible for what happens in the office, which means that he IS presumed to know.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      If he knows he is harassing her also by allowing it to continue. If he doesn’t know he is incompetent. Either way, he and the harassing employees should be fired.

  16. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Go to HR immediately. Do not pass go.

    First of all, your manager has put you in a truly terrible position and needs to make it clear that this policy is his, not yours. Second, he needs to stop the harassment from your coworkers immediately. None of this is okay and I am so sorry you work with a bunch of idiots.

  17. singularity*

    I have a similar allergy to shellfish and seafood (pretty much anything from the ocean, I can’t have it) and it’s absolutely ridiculous the number of grown adults who believe I’m faking it because I’m a picky eater. My own mother tried to sneak shrimp into a dish once because she thought I was being ‘melodramatic’ and didn’t want to admit that I just didn’t like seafood. Multiple people in my life over the years have done such things, like sneaking shellfish or fish into a dish and not telling me. I am SO SORRY that you are dealing with these people, OP.

    If it were me, I would start documenting every single thing they do. Take pictures of the snickers bars on your desk every time they appear and write down the dates of when it happened previously, if you can remember. Document every little snide comment and hostile interaction you have with any of your co-workers specifically related to this. Hopefully HR deals with it correctly.

    1. singularity*

      “ridiculous the number of grown adults who believe I’m faking it because I’m a picky eater.”

      *because they THINK I’m a picky eater.* Ugh.

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Not the same level at all, but I have a gag reflex to certain textures of foods. As a kid, my father was actually angry at me because I didn’t want to eat beans. Like I had insulted him for disliking one of his favorite foods. So he made me eat them at dinner one night and I upchucked all over the table. Served him right!

        But to agree with you, it’s insane how people react sometimes and think you’re faking it. NO ONE is intentionally insulting someone else by having an allergy or an aversion to a specific food or ingredient. If someone is offended by it, or accuses you of faking it, THAT PERSON IS AWFUL!

          1. Artemesia*

            for me it was liver and a top bunk that night was involved. I never had to eat liver again — I was about 9.

          2. KoiFeeder*

            Fruit cups for me. Wasn’t my parents, it was the speech therapist folks, but I still can’t smell fruit cups without getting nauseated.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “I have a gag reflex to certain textures of foods.” Me too! And some smells too give me a similar reaction – I can basically handle it as long as I’m not trying to eat the food. Maybe I’m not a picky eater – just overly sensitive or something?

        2. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

          My niece didn’t eat meat for years because of this. Once she could communicate, she told her mom she didn’t like how it felt in her mouth. Before, she just spit and cried. Fortunately, my sister has a sane approach to trying new food-try one bite. If you don’t like it, fine, no consequences. Refused foods get retried occasionally, same rule. She eats meat now because something in her systems changed. Sis understood better when niece was Diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

      2. londonedit*

        My sister can’t eat gluten or dairy because of a medical condition – so it’s not an allergy, but she becomes very ill if she does eat them. Said medical condition also means she’s fairly skinny, though not unhealthily so. We were once in a restaurant and my sister ordered a salad, but asked for it to come without the advertised croutons, and with a non-dairy dressing. The two women sitting at a nearby table tutted loudly and started a conversation about ‘These ridiculous young women nowadays, starving themselves with their fad diets’. We should have confronted them, but being British and deathly allergic to Making A Scene, my sister didn’t want to cause a fuss in the middle of the restaurant so she left it. I can totally imagine women like them sneaking a bit of cheese or fish or nuts or whatever into someone’s food because they think it’s all a ‘fad diet’ and not a serious allergy.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Even if it were a fad diet, you could still get sick from suddenly reintroducing a food group that you’ve eliminated from your diet for a long period of time.

    2. Narise*

      I remember traveling with friends and one stating that we could go to a seafood restaurant no problem. I asked about her allergy and she said she doesn’t order fish. And I told her if they fry her french fries in the same oil as my shrimp she could react. Suddenly a light bulb went off for her. There had been times she had experienced mild symptoms but not a full on attack and hadn’t put it together about shared oil or cooking surfaces. I think she had always gone to seafood restaurants to ‘not be difficult.’ We didn’t go that day.

      1. TootsNYC*

        (though I remember being so happy at a seafood restaurant that the fries were gluten free because they don’t fry their fish in the same oil, because of the taste contamination.)

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      This mindset always baffles me. Would it actually make a difference if someone didn’t like a food item? Would they still try and sneak it in if what was the case? Why do you want to feed someone something they don’t want???

      1. Ev*

        Speaking as someone who doesn’t have any food allergies but IS an extremely picky eater: yes, there are jerks who will still absolutely try to fool you into eating things you’ve told them you dislike by sneaking them into your food.

        Some people are extremely weird about food and get bizarrely defensive if you express preferences that are different from theirs, even if you are in no way stopping them from eating the food they enjoy. It’s much the same experience as being the only person at an event who isn’t drinking: there are people who will interpret you forgoing alcohol or certain foods as somehow judging them for consuming it, and then they’ll get angry at your presumed judgement.

        1. TiffIf*

          I have a friend who absolutely HATES goat cheese. She’s not allergic, she just doesn’t like it. Her brother tries to trick her into eating something with goat cheese–so he can turn around and laugh “ha ha that had goat cheese in it and you ate it and liked it!” except every time she can tell and hates it.

          I hate chocolate–I just seriously don’t like the taste. I had a friend try to convince me that you couldn’t taste the chocolate in red velvet cake, except no I totally can (I don’t know if she just tasted the red dye stronger than the chocolate or something?)

            1. Artemesia*

              well that and chemical flavored — can’t believe anyone makes that stuff anymore — it takes huge amounts of chemical dye.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                Ironically, I don’t like red velvet cake because I love chocolate and I can’t taste the chocolate over the chemical taste.

            2. TechWorker*

              It’s quite a mild chocolate taste though, so I can see someone thinking it’s ‘not that chocolate you.

              Also people just taste things differently – my other half hates bell peppers (not allergic, just doesn’t like the taste). He can taste them in sauces and soups when I can’t, and he’s always right :p

              1. Elizabeth West*

                This is how I am about celery. Not allergic, just hate it (as far as I’m concerned, it’s fodder, not food) and yes, it has a taste. A yucky taste. And I can taste it.

                Ironically, I LOVE broccoli and I can’t eat it.

                1. Lucien Nova*

                  This is me with honey. It does not matter how little there is. I will taste it and I will not be happy. I do not like honey in the least.

                  (Though I have started to suspect it may be a mild allergy because my reaction to honey is so much more visceral than my mum’s and she will vomit if she tastes honey, but she’s confirmed not allergic…)

          1. tangerineRose*

            People are so weird. When I was in college, someone I knew told me he didn’t like chocolate. I was puzzled, but I had no problem with it. I mean, this is someone I would never have to share my chocolate with.

        2. Don’tWorryAboutAThing*

          I see a lot of comments on other sites regarding food preferences as basically “grow up and move on past the chicken nuggets, already! There’s a whole world of food you’re depriving yourself of!” I know I am, and I’m slowly trying new stuff. But I still love Mac n cheese and chicken nuggets.

      2. Quoth the Raven*

        A lot of people who would. Some people seem to believe that not liking something or having dietary preferences or restrictions (whether as a choice or as result of an allergy) is the very height of immaturity and must be fixed because heaven forbid someone won’t or can’t eat something, or asks them to consider anyone else’s needs. There are others who think you are judging them, and others who hope for an “Uh huh! Gotcha!” moment because they’re assholes.

        Especially when it comes to popular food items! I have an allergy to some sprouts (bean, soy, alfalfa) that is very similar to OP’s (so I’m fine around it as long as I don’t put it in my mouth, but if I do my throat swells almost shut, the whole thing) and no one gives me hell about it because it’s sprouts, c’mon, but my friend who is allergic to chocolate gets a lot of grief about it (and being vegetarian I get a lot of “how can you not eat burgers/bacon/chicken wings, here try it! Why are you judging what I eat!” even in this day and age and even when I couldn’t care about what they put in their plates).

      3. Ellen N.*

        I would never, ever attempt to cajole anyone into eating something they said they don’t eat no matter what the reason. I certainly would never sneak foods that people have told me that they don’t eat into their food.

        However, I understand being irritated by picky eaters. I was in a book club where there were so many conflicting food aversions that the only way to feed everyone was to make two separate entrees. Also, I prefer that people just tell me what they don’t eat and make sure the list is complete. Please don’t describe in detail your digestive issues or your gag reflex upon encountering a food you dislike.

        Allergy fakers are vexing for professional chefs/cooks. When restaurant patrons state that they are allergic to a food one chef/cook must sterilize his/her entire station and make the meal without any component touching any possible contaminated surface. This is time consuming and time is money. Therefore, it is infuriating to chefs/cooks when they then see the diner eating the ingredient they’d claimed to be allergic to.

        1. Jan*

          And those who pretend to be allergic when they’re not are the ones making it harder for those with genuine allergies to be taken seriously. Like someone else said above, I’m not allergic to anything but I definitely have foods I Do. Not. Like. When eating out and the staff insisted on giving me cheese with my meal despite me asking for the non-cheese option, my friend advised me to send it back and say I was allergic. No, I don’t want to say I’m allergic when I’m not. I can see why people think it might sound better/politer than “I don’t like it” but not liking it is/should be perfectly valid. You can still explain you don’t like something in a polite way.

        2. Artemesia*

          For this reason when I make my no onion request I always tell them it is a sensitivity not an allergy so I have no problem with cross contamination — just can’t eat the things in my actual food.

        3. Diahann Carroll*

          Therefore, it is infuriating to chefs/cooks when they then see the diner eating the ingredient they’d claimed to be allergic to.

          But as was pointed out in this thread several times, many people don’t have anaphylaxis responses to food they’re allergic to – they can break out in hives or end up on the toilet for hours later. This is why people should not be sneaking things into other people’s food trying to have a “gotcha” moment – you could end up seriously harming someone hours later and never even know it.

          1. Ellen N.*

            Chefs/cooks don’t sneak things into people’s food. Many customers claim to be allergic to ingredients when they don’t have the allergy.

            1. kupo*

              They do, though. Waiters and chefs will test customers by giving them the thing they said they’re allergic to to see if they actually react. And I’ve had to just not eat on more than one occasion because the item I ordered sans allergen came with the allergen, I sent it back, and they sent the exact same plate back with the allergen picked out after I specified I can’t have any cross-contamination. But my reaction won’t hit until it hits my small intestine, so their “gotcha” would be a confirmation that I don’t really have an allergy in their minds.

        4. Nic*

          Therefore, it is infuriating to chefs/cooks when they then see the diner eating the ingredient they’d claimed to be allergic to.

          True, but it’s not always that simple. I know I’ve heard of a number of cases (mostly through the Not Always Right website!) where the chef has got wound up over a seeming contradiction between what the customer says and what they then eat…that actually isn’t necessarily a contradiction, because they don’t know enough about how allergies and intolerances work, or how their own science of cooking food works.

          For instance, one of the most common food intolerances is to tomatoes – but what few people know unless they have that intolerance, is that the tomato protein most often responsible for provoking an immune system reaction is unstable and denatures when exposed to prolonged heat. Which means it’s very common for someone with a tomato intolerance to be unable to eat part-cooked and raw tomatoes, and totally able to eat highly processed tomato in the form of ketchups, purees and some soups and pizza sauces. And if you don’t know that fact, it looks like the person is being a picky liar who just doesn’t want to eat healthy.

          1. My Dear Wormwood*

            Right, I can’t eat garlic, but I can eat garlic-infused oil, because the fructans that cause the problems are not oil-soluable. My home cooked food smells pretty garlicky at times but I can’t rely on food cooked elsewhere…unless I’m willing to spend a fair bit of time on the toilet the next day.

          2. Self Employed*

            A former friend of mine simply doesn’t like shrimp, but when we were fairly new to hanging out she wanted spring rolls at a boba cafe where we and her husband were dining. They asked if it was an allergy (but didn’t mention having to clean the prep area) or just a preference (so they could just substitute). Instead of just saying “It’s a preference, you don’t need to worry about cross contamination” she threw a tantrum and yelled at them for trying to force her to eat shrimp unless she can prove she needs an accommodation. I tried to say something about cross contamination and she started screaming at me about how I was trying to make her eat shrimp.

            The counter person just wanted to do the right thing AND have her STFU, so they went with “allergy”–which added half an hour and the rest of us ate our meals listening to her whining about how long her food was taking. It was obvious to me that this was because a little Vietnamese boba-and-snacks place made our orders before decontaminating the prep area to make her spring roll. They may have had to make a custom batch of dipping sauce, depending on the recipe. They probably lost money on our order from the 20 minutes of staff time it took to make her $5 spring rolls. But all she could think of was how mean they were to try to make her eat shrimp and then the service was so slow. I tipped them a LOT for having to deal with Karen.

            We are no longer friends, because even if you could excuse this by being hangry enough to be confused (a mood I can understand) she was like this a LOT.

  18. Mockingjay*

    IANAL, but could lining up pieces of a known deadly allergen on the victim’s – I mean OP’s – desk be construed as premeditated?

    1. Aunt Vixen*

      IANAL, but from a different angle, how is it not a threat? Line up a half-dozen bullets on someone’s desk and tell me that doesn’t count as harassment.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I think it borders on being a threat since the OP has said they are only allergic if they eat peanuts. But either way it is messed up on so many levels!

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          It sounds like OP is not endangered if there are just peanuts around, but the boss sent out an email indicating that they were. So if the coworkers *think* that the allergy is an airborne one then leaving those candy bars on the desk is pretty atrocious.

  19. Alex*

    Ugh, I hate to say it but I also witnessed this almost exact behavior in a previous toxic workplace. The allergy was not nuts, it was something else, but the snide comments, snarky doubts about the truth of the allergy, and passive-aggressive (or aggressive-aggresive)-ley placed products with said allergen are alarmingly similar.

    I think part of the problem was the general toxicity of the entire workplace, which snowballs and makes people behave even more poorly than they might have otherwise. So not only do I think this is awful behavior by these people that should be addressed by HR…I’d take it as a red flag for the environment more generally.

    1. MaureenSmith*

      Agree with the toxic workplace. Maybe it’s just this group that’s toxic? Regardless, it should be flagged for HR and the OP move to a different group at a minimum. This group has already proven it can retaliate, getting HR involved will exacerbate that. Get out now.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        It must be just this group unless the OP’s previous team was a unicorn in a toxic workplace.

  20. Lindsay Gee*

    Agree with the other comments, just wanted to add I find this extra bizarre because who reaches working adult age without being in a peanut free classroom at some point? My universities were mostly nut free, I had elementary/high school classes be nut free, I work now in a hospital that is super duper nut free (bc hospital). Like how is this some new thing they’ve never encountered before to feel like their day is ruined bc they can’t have a peanut butter sandwich?

    1. ALM2019*

      I’m in my late 30’s and have never encountered this at work or in a classroom. I’m aware of it being more common place now because of my nieces and nephews friends at parties. It doesn’t excuse their behavior. What they’re doing to OP is 100% wrong, just want to point out that not everyone has experienced this.

        1. The Rural Juror*

          First time experiencing it was when my sister-in-law asked me to carry my niece’s epipen in my purse on a day trip. She was a toddler at the time and I hadn’t realized she’s allergic to eggs. I went all through school, college, and a decade of work experience before that.

      1. PeanutButter*

        Same, 35 years old the closest I’ve come is having airlines no longer serve nuts for in flight snacks. And I’ve worked in health care settings for almost 10 years! But yeah, it doesn’t excuse it at all. The concept of nut-free spaces has been around a while and while it would be mildly annoying to not be able to eat my absolute favorite snack (see username) in a workplace, it would not be onerous in the least. I’d probably just have to a note on my fridge at home to remind myself to not pack nuts for work lunch.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I’m 60, and I had heard about the severity of allergies when I was a child.
        There’s no excuse to claim ignorance.

        1. TootsNYC*

          A person might not have personally encountered it, but it’s been a thing people have talked about in general for a long time.

          And even if you somehow missed it (because that is possible, of course), how stupid do you have to be to think that it doesn’t exist–since YOU never saw it.

    2. On a pale mouse*

      I’m 53 and this wasn’t a thing when I was a kid. There weren’t nut-free spaces. I brought PB&J for lunch all the time. Either allergies like this were extremely rare, or people who had them didn’t talk about it or didn’t go to public school or some combination.

      So I get that people are initially surprised if they’re my age. But it’s still a jerk move to disbelieve people about stuff like this. And it takes like 30 seconds with Google to discover that it is a thing now, and researchers are working on why it seems more common now.

      1. Delta Delta*

        Growing up I remember a kid in my second grade class who was gluten intolerant and also allergic to chocolate. Kids were very kind and on birthdays made sure to bring treats to share that he could also have. I remember some of my classmates being pretty philosophical about it and saying although they’d like chocolate cupcakes, it wouldn’t be fair because Jonny (or whatever his name was) couldn’t have it, so they brought something else to share. Those kids should be running the LW’s company.

      2. Harper the Other One*

        My dad has commented on this (went to public school in the 1950s.) He did know a kid with a severe allergy and he just couldn’t go to public school. He also knew at least one child who died of a mysterious sudden collapse that from an adult perspective he realized was very likely anaphylaxis.

        So when people complain to him about peanut-free classrooms he just points out that kids in the past just died, and is that really what they want to advocate for?

        1. Self Employed*

          My mom babysat a kid before I was born (so between 1950-1965) who had a potentially fatal peanut allergy. Every time my mother would come over to babysit, the mother would remind her that Johnny was allergic to peanuts and to tell him NO if he asked for a PB&J. I don’t know how old he was, but apparently he didn’t understand “you could die if you ate this” and just wanted forbidden fruit.

      3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I’m personally becoming convinced that many of the “choking” deaths reported fifty or more years ago in children were actually anaphylaxis, and “failure to thrive” actually celiac, lactose intolerance, etc. You have to know quite a lot about allergies to recognise early or mild allergy symptoms as such and tie them together.

        1. Artemesia*

          Bet you are right. The recommendations for kids failing to thrive was often to feed them ‘lightly toasted bread’ etc etc and other bland fare — which if they were celiac was poison.

          I am old and I personally know two people my age who are deathly allergic to nuts, and one who is deathly allergic to eggplant. I know people in my children’s generation who are allergic to nuts or who have children who are.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Pretty much this. We weren’t so aware of peanut allergies then, but everyone knew about bee venom allergies. I can remember being outside during gym class and people shrieking at the allergic kids, “Look out! There’s a BEE!” because they didn’t want anyone to die. There was a diabetic kid in our class too and we all knew what she wasn’t supposed to eat.

        I mean, we knew these things existed.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      I don’t think it’s that odd. I’m almost 40 and I don’t think I ever had a nut-free classroom as a kid.

      With my kids who are in elementary school I default to assuming nut-free policies for camps, after school programs, etc., unless I hear otherwise. Basically every day care we looked at was nut free.

      So I think in our part of the country, at least, common awareness came about sometime in the 10-20 years ago time frame? And that means a good portion of the workforce may not have ever experienced this before.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, folks 40 and up probably didn’t have nut-free stuff growing up in school, but most of them have probably heard about it through their kids.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’m in Gen X. We didn’t have peanut-free classes, but I’ve certainly heard of it and about peanut allergies. I keep remembering a news article I read about a little boy who died after taking a bite of a piece of cake at a birthday party. It said he realized what it was and spit it out but …

          How many people really don’t know how dangerous allergies can be?

      2. MaureenSmith*

        I’m 40 and had a diagnosed nut/peanut allergy since I was a baby. Also milk and egg allergies too. Fun. At no point in the 1980’s / 1990’s were any allergins prohibited from the classroom. Another student with a severe allergy to nuts in aerosol form was sent to a special room for lunch, rather than prohibit the PB&J’s from their classroom.

        I’m glad that allergies in schools are taken more seriously now and common allergins prohibited. On the other hand, those of us with allergies learned very quickly to ask questions, read labels, and become independent advocates for our own bodies and health.

        1. 90s kid*

          I remember there being a rule one year in middle school that if you brought peanuts or PB to lunch, you had to tell a teacher as soon you finished eating so they could walk you to the bathroom to wash your hands without touching anything. It would have been more sensible to just ban peanuts. Myself and friends just stopped bringing nuts anyway because it was easier.

      3. londonedit*

        Same – I’m nearly 40 and never experienced nut-free environments as a child, but I know they are now commonplace thanks to the fact that I have friends with children and friends who are teachers.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’m about the same age and we didn’t have a nut free environment at school. We did have a child a few years ahead of me nearly die from an allergic reaction to something (I can’t remember what) as I remember we got a lecture about respecting peoples’ allergies after that.

      4. LCH*

        also 40. we probably should have had certain foods banned because kids love to trade. and kids may not always know what’s in their food. i had a friend in the 2nd grade with a milk allergy and i saw her trade something for a pudding and i was like, wait, doesn’t that have milk??

        1. Rainy*

          I have a milk allergy–not lactose intolerance, which doesn’t care if the milk is cooked or not–but a milk *allergy*, and as long as the milk is cooked (pasteurization isn’t enough, alas), I’m fine. If it’s not cooked, I’m on the way to the hospital.

          I can eat pudding cups or cooked puddings, but I can’t have instant pudding.

          1. LCH*

            7 yo me wasn’t sure! i know she checked in before eating and i think they took it away. maybe she was lactose intolerant instead.

      5. Not new*

        I’m 40. Grew up with a nut allergy. Went to the emergency room directly from the classroom at least once a year. Had at least one teacher who thought I was faking it and lied about her homemade snack ingredients. Had a school nurse feed me nut filled cookies because it was my job to know what they looed and tasted like. Went without lunch when the option was PB&J at school lunch. Dealt with the lack of allergy warnings on anything. Usually though, the other kids were fine. It was the adults that acted like malicious villians because they didn’t have experience with it, so it must not be true.

        1. Elenna*

          “because it was my job to know what they looed and tasted like”

          ah yes because you can definitely know the taste of something you CAN’T EAT this seems logical /s

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Okay, now I want to go back in time and feed that nurse a cowpat. Just so she knows what it looks and tastes like, don’t ya know. >:(

    4. TiaTeapot*

      Someone old enough to not have been in school in the 21st century (ish). This article isn’t exactly what I was looking for, but confirms my vague memory that childhood allergies/peanut butter exclusion from schools etc started being taken seriously in the late 90s (& probably the “no peanuts” rule wasn’t applied in many districts unless a child was reported to require it). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1323893016301137

      1. SS*

        40 year old here. Growing up, I was told that “allergy” meant having a negative reaction to a food or medicine (including heartburn). My mom thought nothing of telling friends and restaurants that she was “allergic” to nuts because she doesn’t like them. For years, I thought I was allergic to antibiotics because they gave me pretty bad stomach problems. It took me until I joined the military to understand that a true allergy meant having an anaphylactic shock reaction to a particular substance.
        I suspect that a large percentage of people my age or older have this understanding of what “allergies” are… and find all the protections and protocols deeply annoying. But there is no excuse for blatantly ignoring someone else’s boundaries regarding what goes into their body.

        1. Myrin*

          I don’t think you need to be at anaphylactic shock levels for something to be an allergy – there are definitely stages, and relatively harmless things like rashes, itchiness, coughing, or feeling sick can easily be signs of a milder allergy.

          1. JustaTech*

            Allergy really just describes an immune reaction. So it can be hives and a rash and itchiness, or swelling, or full anaphylaxis.
            But it can also be serious GI issues, if the allergy is from different immune cells. The most common allergen I hear about with those is shellfish. Celiac is a different kind of thing, where it’s not a standard allergy, but it’s not an intolerance, like lactose can be for some people.

            Also, allergies can change with age. You can “grow out” of an allergy (my FIL grew out of his crab allergy in his 60’s) or you can “grow into” an allergy (my husband developed a shellfish allergy, differ from his dad’s, in his 30’s).

            There are some treatments to try and get rid of allergies; you may have heard of allergy shots. Those are a form of immunotherapy and they’re usually for environmental allergens like pollen and mold and stuff you can’t avoid because it’s in the air. They’re starting to use a similar therapy for kids with food allergies, but it’s very limited right now because it risks a serious reaction.

            1. Paloma Pigeon*

              It’s called OIT – Oral Immunotherapy, and it’s becoming more common. One of the sad reasons it’s still not widespread is because the governing board of Allergists has not figured out how to quantify treatment across the board, since everyone is different and may tolerate different doses/updoses. Hence, no standardized care – and no insurance billing. : (

              Products are coming on the market for skin patches for peanut and milk – these are like bandaids that slowly release allergen amounts in small doses and make the individual ‘bite proof’ – an accidental ingestion does not escalate to anaphylaxis since the body has learned to tolerate a low dose.

              Lots of exciting research coming in the next 5 years, and not a moment too soon, IMHO.

              1. JustaTech*

                Oh that’s super cool!

                It’s so hard on kids and their families to have to be on high alert all the time for food allergens. Food is everywhere and kids are, well, kids. They have very little control over their environment and have to depend on adults to keep them safe, and even adults with food allergies can have a hard time.

        2. Guacamole Bob*

          There’s also a whole slew of people who think they have an allergy to certain antibiotics because they got a rash from them, but it turns out most of those aren’t true allergies and even the rash often doesn’t appear with later exposure. I have a penicillin allergy all over my medical files that I suspect isn’t really valid but which I haven’t gone through the testing and hassle to remove. The CDC fact sheet I just googled says that 10% of the population thinks they’re allergic to penicillin and it’s actually less than 1%.

          So that can also skew how people think of allergies.

          1. pandop*

            My Man had a medical alert bracelet for Penicillin – apparently when she was given it , the next moment afterthought the nurses were floating in mid air
            Possibly no t a life threatening reaction, but definitely on the ‘not good’ side of things!

        3. Librarian1*

          But allergies don’t require full-on anaphylactic shock to be considered allergies. It’s definitely different from getting heartburn, but there are other symptoms.

          1. PeanutButter*

            Yep – I have never (knock on wood) gotten to the anaphylactic stage with my dog and sulfa drug allergies…just the swell-up-and-turn-beet-red stage. It’s still plastered all over my medical files because some day it *could* end up being anaphylaxis instead of “just” hives/angioedema…which in and of themselves are INCREDIBLY painful.

    5. Deliliah*

      I’ve never been in a school or workplace that was nut-free. I guess no one around me ever had a severe enough allergy to call for it.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, same (and I’m 29). Granted, I don’t live in the US and we don’t really eat peanut butter (or peanuts, for that matter) here but surely there must be people here who are allergic to other kinds of nuts? But now that I think about it, I’ve never knowlingly met or even heard about someone (in my immediate vicinity) with such an allergy. Will have to research that.

        1. De*

          You’re German, if I remember correctly? I am, too, and my sister is allergic to tree nuts. We ate Belmandel instead of Nutella growing up :D

        2. Uly*

          For some reason, allergies are not evenly distributed around the world. In Eastern Europe, for example, nut allergies are rare – but allergies to *celery* are fairly common, when that allergy is all but unheard of in the US.

      2. BubbleTea*

        My primary school in the 90s was nut-free, and we had kids coming from pretty long distances away because they had allergies and no other schools in the area could protect them. So based on that anecdatum, allergies were recognised as a Thing in the UK in the 90s but it wasn’t widespread to have schools ban allergens. I’m not actually sure whether all schools are nut-free here even now, I don’t think they are. It does seem to be more a USA thing to default to nut-free (although perhaps also because there’s a lot more peanut butter consumption over there?)

        1. Paperwhite*

          Yeah, peanut butter in the US is very widely eaten and even more widely fed to children. It takes some of the culinary space that mild cheeses do in Europe.

          1. Guacamole Bob*

            Yes, when I’ve had family studying or living abroad they’ve wanted me to bring peanut butter when I visit because it’s such a staple for many Americans and so much harder to get in Europe than in the US.

        2. micklethwaite*

          Yeah, I (UK) went up to secondary school in the mid-90s, and neither my primary nor secondary schools were nut free when I attended – but I had a relative working at another local primary that did go nut free because they had a kid with a severe allergy, and I remember him boggling at the onslaught of complaints from parents about how peanut butter was the ONLY thing their child LIKED. I mean…tough! You seriously want to risk another child’s life so that your kid doesn’t have to eat a sub-optimal packed lunch? People are ridiculous.

          My kid’s primary wasn’t nut free when he joined a few years ago (I asked) but it is now.

          1. Uly*

            Most of those complaints probably were ridiculous, however, it is possible for a child with a very serious set of food aversions to be limited to only a handful of options, most of which are not shelf-stable and cannot be packed in a lunchbox. (And for all that we’re saying here that people don’t take food allergies seriously, people really don’t take aversions seriously at all.)

            It’s a good example of conflicting accessibility demands, right up there with “I need a guide dog, and this other person has a serious allergy to dogs, and we need to both be in the same small space together”.

            1. Self Employed*

              There are so many good options for chilled lunch packs nowadays that “must keep without refrigeration” doesn’t have to be a limitation on school lunches. There’s probably significant Venn diagram overlap between “kids with food aversions” and “kids with IEPs” if the school disapproves of chilled lunch packs vs. paper bags or whatever, so they could get an exception.

              1. Uly*

                If the kid will eat anything that has to be kept in a chilled lunchbox, which might not be the case. Serious food aversions are… well, they’re serious. Sometimes it’s a win when you can get your kid to eat the peanut butter sandwich cut into triangles instead of rectangles, because that might be a gateway to eating the sandwich with an entirely different flavor of jelly.

              2. Uly*

                But, to be clear, I think it’s pretty improbable that any of those people have a kid whose diet is so restricted – and if they did, they’d probably have more respect for people whose diets are restricted for other reasons as well, because that is NO FUN.

    6. Moi*

      I’m in my late 20s, grew up in the US Midwest, and it was starting to become a thing in the elementary schools when I graduated high school. My mom was involved with the school parties when I was in elementary and middle school, and the only time they were officially nut free was when a kid in the class had an allergy and the teacher knew.

    7. LeahS*

      I’m 32 and have never been in a peanut free classroom or workplace! But I definitely wouldn’t have a problem with it because I like it when people, you know, stay alive and healthy.

    8. Nancy*

      I am in my early 40s and have never had a peanut/nut free classroom or even workspace. You just knew not to share with the allergy.

      We actually had this conversation at work one day, about how nut-free classrooms are much more common. Only those in their early 20s had experienced it.

      1. Nancy*

        *not to share with the person with the allergy!

        To add: Taunting the person is wrong, no matter what. We know who has the peanut allergy at work. No one cares, we just don’t have peanuts in anything we plan to share and we clean our lunch space.

    9. Silly Goose*

      This is very generational. Allergies have been on the rise and lots of adults didn’t have this growing up. My kid had a friend who had sever milk allergy (among others) and the birthday treat I sent in was the ONLY one that kid could eat the whole year (fresh, homemade rolls with maybe three ingredients done on disposable pans from well washed bowls)… Not because people were jerks, but because the parents didn’t think about it. We keep Kosher, so we are very aware of food limitations.

      1. Quill*

        Yeah, from my reading both allergies and ashthma have become increasingly common in the last generation. There are probably multiple factors – I’ve seen increased pollution, overuse of antibacterial products, and the idea that it was just less common in preceding generations for a child with a severe allergic reaction to live long enough to be diagnosed and treated, in much the same way as diabetic children often died prior to the widespread use of insulin.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Plus some protocols are changing. Previous wisdom was to not expose children to potential allergens early on (which prevented reactions and also didn’t allow the immune system to learn), and now ideas are changing to limited, controlled exposure. The newest thinking seems to be that when we’re too good at eliminating “bad stuff” (eg: parasites) from our world, our immune systems essentially run out of work and start assigning themselves new projects.

      2. tangerineRose*

        I wonder how many deaths happened back in the day because of allergies that people just didn’t know about? What if allergies just seem to be increasing because we’ve gotten better at recognizing and treating them?

    10. Rez123*

      I’m 30 (and work in a hospital) and I’ve never encountered nut-free classroom or workplace. Also never heard anyone IRL mention them having a nut-free school or workplace, but could be that it just hasn’t come up. I’ve Only read about it on the internet.

    11. Lora*

      Uh, me? I am old, and I grew up in a farming community – allergies to anything at all were quite rare. They’ve only increased in prevalence in the 21st century. In the 70s-80s, if you had any kind of allergy or illness it was basically considered a job for the school nurse to deal with, and that was about where the school’s responsibility ended. We had Deaf classmates, childhood cancer survivor classmates, several classmates with developmental disabilities – none with severe nut allergies that would have required the classroom be nut-free. It really was very rare.

      When I was in grad school they called it the Hygiene Hypothesis, now it’s thought to be much more complicated with a focus on how children are exposed to allergens and gut flora while they are being weaned in the first year + antibiotics overuse. The basic premise is, if you grow up exposed to a wide variety of dirt and food, even as a small baby, your immune system learns to tolerate these things. If you grow up in a clean house and rarely contact actual outdoor soil and water bacteria, pets, or other humans’ (your mother and other close family) bacteria, and your parents followed the advice to introduce only a few foods gradually, carefully avoiding potential allergens, then you are more likely to develop allergies having not been exposed to these things in the developmental window when your immune system could have learned to tolerate them. Your gut flora assist in this tolerance process, so if they are frequently killed off or altered by antibiotic use, you will become more likely to develop food allergies also. As people develop more Westernized lifestyles (including antibiotic overuse) in other countries, they also see an increase in food allergies.

      Which doesn’t change the fact that OP’s colleagues are jerkfaces. Bet you a dollar if OP wore a red shirt on a Tuesday or carried a blue tote bag or whatever, they’d be snots about that too. Will bet you another dollar, they think it’s a joke, in good fun and they all have a GREAT sense of humor and are not at all a-holes in any way.

    12. Lexie*

      I’m 40 something and there were never food restrictions at any of my schools. My kids are currently in elementary school and the school serves PB&J as an alternative to the entree three days a week. Now the day camp they go to is peanut and nut free which is a challenge because my kids are picky. However I figure it out because they can live without a peanut butter sandwich while another kid may not be able to live with one.

    13. Silly Goose*

      Per my comment, below, this is very generational… however, I can tell you from parenting that I’ve seen nut-free schools (supposedly don’t allow “may contain traces of nuts”), everything allowed schools, dairy free lunch tables, etc. Peanuts are the most common one, most camps/schools don’t allow peanut products unless they are VERY small (know they have no peanut allergies on campus). There are even “school friendly” packaged snacks that advertise on the individual wrappers that they are peanut free (with pictures for little kids).

    14. Librarian1*

      Yeah, I don’t think this is very common for people over age 30ish. Maybe even younger. I’m in my mid-30s and peanut-free classrooms weren’t really a thing until I was an adult. I started hearing about them sometime in the ’00s.

  21. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    Perhaps someone should inform the LW’s dingbat manager and new department colleagues that ANYONE can develop an allergy at ANY AGE! While it’s statistically unlikely, it’s possible that every one of them could wake up tomorrow and find themselves now allergic to peanuts. Do they really think they’re home free because they don’t have an allergy at this very moment? Well, they should think again!

    LW, please do inform HR right. now. And document, document, document every one of these incidents. (And did I mention – document everything?!)

    1. singularity*

      This is exactly what happened to me. One day I woke up with an allergy to beans. Specifically pinto, lima, butter, kidney, red, white, and navy beans. Why? Who knows, but now I have an epi-pen for that and other food allergies. There’s also that tick that, when it bites people, makes them deathly allergic to meat.

      1. Exhausted Trope*

        My cousin has that allergy to red meat. She got bitten by a tick and has Alpha-gal syndrome now.
        She’s gone pescatarian now.

        1. Southern Ladybug*

          Yes – one of my best friends developed this allergy as well. We assume it was a tick bite that she didn’t know about.

        2. Loves libraries*

          I have a friend with this allergy as well. Today is her birthday and the powdered sugar used to make her birthday case has to be special.

          1. Brisvegan*

            That’s because US sugar production often uses animal bone char in the production.

            As a vegan, I’m lucky to live where that’s not a concern, but a lot of the US vegan and vegetarian sites mention it.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        My friend’s husband had that tick-bite allergy. I was fascinated as apparently many people in their neighborhood developed it and the idea of a localized allergy is very interesting. Nice though that at least you know any neighborhood block parties are sure to have a meat free option!

    2. M*

      YES! I have a friend who spontaneously developed a bunch of serious allergies in college. She woke up one morning with a puffy face, thought it was the makeup brand. It was because her body decided it was time to reject all gluten. Her docs were like, “well, this is life now. Don’t eat those things”. It can really happen to anyone!

      1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

        Same. My best friend never had a problem in her life with nuts and then one day ate a brownie in college and woke up on the floor of the dorm restroom with two EMTs kneeling over her and a mask on her face.

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes, I was fine with cats and dogs growing up (although we never had either so I didn’t spend a lot of time with them). Then as an adult I stayed with a friend with 3 cats and I discovered that I was in fact allergic to cats and couldn’t properly breathe and came out in a rash. I don’t know whether I’ve always been allergic to them or whether it’s a thing that’s developed later.

    3. Delta Delta*

      Yep, this. My body decided at age 39 it wanted no part of certain pollens, which is no big thing, but some fruits trick your body into thinking they’re pollen. I found this out one day when I was eating an apple (so ordinary! so benign!) and all of a sudden my tongue swelled up and felt like it was on fire. I learned from working with my MD that for me this happens when those pollens are very prevalent in the air (sadly, during delicious fruit seasons). Before that I had no allergy issues. This developed completely out of the blue.

      1. AnonInTheCity*

        Oral allergy syndrome! Sometimes if you avoid all tree fruits for a good while (like a year plus) it can go away as suddenly as it came. I had it mildly in my 20s but haven’t experienced it for awhile. On the flip side my actual seasonal allergies have been haywire but it’s a reasonable tradeoff to be able to eat peaches again.

        1. Ms.Vader*

          Yup – I have that and am now deathly allergic to avocado and mango. And a litany if other allergens will make me break out in hives. It really sucks lol

      2. Quill*

        I never had a pollen allergy until I was 21. Did not expect being developmentally no longer a teenager to come with hay fever.

        1. AKchic*

          I didn’t get a pollen allergy until my mid-30s. Alaska’s climate has also been changing, so it could be that I’d always had it, but the circumstances weren’t actually there to trigger it.

          1. Quill*

            Oh, I didn’t move at all, but I have a sneaking suspicion that my immune system had been under enough stress the year before that it was just done, overall.

      3. Totally Minnie*

        I’ve got oral allergy syndrome too. There are whole months and even whole seasons when I can’t eat fruit that hasn’t been cooked first. Allergy season where I live has been brutal this year, so my only fruit consumption has come in the form of homemade applesauce (the preservatives in the store bought kind can trigger similar allergic reactions, so I make my own). I didn’t have it until my 20s, and in the beginning it was one specific kind of fruit. But as I’ve gotten older it’s expanded to include just about everything I’ve tried. These things really can sneak up on you, and even known allergies can become more severe over time.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Yup – I developed celiac disease out of the blue at about 26. It’s scary as hell because now I’m worried about what else I might wake up allergic to next, smh.

    5. kittymommy*

      Yup. I developed a shellfish allergy (iodine) when I was 12 and developed an allergy to avocados in my mid-thorites. Prior to that I ate a crap ton of each. I have a 50-ish coworker who is likely becoming allergic to shellfish themselves.

      No one is immune to it.

      1. Properlike*

        There’s also cross-reactivity. I think it’s mangos and shrimp that can look identical to a body in terms of allergens.

        I’ve never been able to eat avocado. Major stomach cramps. Have to assure people I’m “intolerant”, not “allergic”… but sometimes I have to say I’m allergic so people will take it seriously when preparing my food.

    6. PeanutButter*

      Also allergies that were fairly mild as a child can really ramp up as an adult. I was mildly allergic to dogs, and was even able to live in a house with two chihuahuas (they were not allowed in my room and I had to wash my hands after petting or walking them or handling their food bowls) as recently as 2017. Now? I recently had to go to the hospital for full body angioedema after an off-leash dog jumped on me and got a lick in before I could get away. And I took a shower and benadryl immediately afterwards too!

    7. President Porpoise*

      That happened to my brother in law. He was in his late fifties, enjoying a plate of shrimp in front of the TV watching a documentary about medical stuff including anaphylaxis and the treatment thereof. It turns out it was extremely timely, as he started to have symptoms, recognized them because of the show he was watching, and was able to make the nearly hour-long drive to the hospital before his throat swelled shut. First reaction ever- he grew up in Maryland and seafood had been one of his favorite things.

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      Yup. Not only do I have personal experience with it (Pineapple allergy for me and my mom has developed several severe food allergies in her 50’s and 60’s), but I just listened to a podcast that stated that food allergies are more likely to be developed in adulthood than as a child.

    9. Claudia*

      I took penicillin for strep throat all the time as a kid. As an adult, I got strep, took amoxicillin, and bam, suddenly I was allergic. It may have been a one time reaction, but it was severe enough that no doctor will take the chance of prescribing me anything in the -cillin family.

      My father is in his 60s and suddenly a couple years ago ate a crabcake and swelled up. After much testing, he was cleared by his doctor to eat lobster (all he really cared about), but he has to avoid shrimp and crab and my mother carries an EpiPen in her purse, maybe for the rest of his life. Even certain seasonings derived from shellfish can cause a reaction.

      It really can develop suddenly and at any time. It’s bizarre and scary.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was fine with broccoli (loved it, in fact) until I took warfarin for a year, following a DVT caused when we were monkeying with my birth control prescription. While I was on the warfarin, I wasn’t allowed to eat spinach or broccoli because of the vitamin K.

        When I stopped taking it, they told me I could eat those vegetables again. The warfarin must have done something to me; although I can eat spinach with no problems, broccoli gives me a massive stomachache. This was not the case before. Luckily, I can pick it out if it’s in a vegetable mix–proximity doesn’t affect me. I have to actually eat it.

    10. Third or Nothing!*

      I’ve always been allergic to dairy and eggs, but since my symptoms were GI & hormone related, I wasn’t diagnosed until age 25 when a doctor ordered a blood allergy test because she had a hunch. So you could totally have an allergy and just not know it because it doesn’t present as the typical anaphylactic reaction. Sucks to suddenly have to go off cheese, but it sure is nice to not have to memorize where all the bathrooms are at all times.

    11. Amethyst*

      Yup. I was 20/21/22ish when I developed an allergy to all nuts. (Which is seriously a pity because there’s only some things that a Reese’s would satisfy, lol.) I can be around them but only if it hasn’t been heated up or left standing in a room to the point where it starts getting…gooey. I start getting really lightheaded and foggy when that happens. Otherwise, eat your PB&J and peanut butter cups and trail mix. I’ll be (mostly) fine. If I ingest it, it’s a totally different story—I start projectile vomiting for hours along with the worst diarrhea ever. I’ve never had an issue with my workplaces regarding my allergy. I make it known to my coworkers and my friends know to provide an alternative if they serve nuts in something. My family has a hard time remembering I can’t have it so I just bring what I can have because they “forget” so often that it’s just easier for me to bring something.

      I had my first taste of shellfish 8-9 years ago in the form of crab wontons from a Chinese restaurant and I remember lying in bed after supper hoping that my throat would calm down and I wouldn’t have to go to the ER because it felt like a bunch of angry bees for a couple hours. I avoid that now and have added shrimp to the list since it’s hit or miss for me.

      I also have some food sensitivities but nothing like the two above.

      1. Amethyst*

        I’m also allergic to prednisone. I took the lowest dose in pill form to calm some inflammation and the second to last dose is when I got a reaction in the form of a full body rash.

        These things really come outta nowhere and causes some anxiety over new things for me because of the “what ifs” associated with that.

    12. SarahN*

      Yep, I suddenly developed allergies to eggs, peanuts, and oats a few months shy of my 33rd birthday. Fortunately not life-threatening, but I was quite miserable (constant itching, mysterious hives and rashes, even nerve pain) for several months until we figured it out. It’s actually not that uncommon to develop a non-IGE mediated allergy in your 30s or 40s. Even if you don’t develop an allergy, you can develop an intolerance or other issue with a food (e.g., inability to handle acidic foods) at any age.

    13. DarnTheMan*

      Ah-yup; I had a co-worker spontaneous develop an allergy to a particular spice/seasoning in her mid-40s. Which really sucked for her because she didn’t know what it was so had to go on an all-white diet and then slowly reintroduce things until she had another reaction (process of elimination style). It went on for weeks and I know she was super unhappy since her whole family was Latin American so eating such bland food was not something she was used to.

  22. IT Relationship Manager*

    This is a moment I wished I was the HR person. I’d come in on a full team meeting (let LW opt out of it) and just outright say, “What the heck is going on with y’all? Are you jerks or just dumb or both.” Then go into a presentation on how bad this was. It would be a moment.

    Good god.

    1. irene adler*

      There should be disciplinary action as well. Lecture alone ain’t gonna cut it with this group.

      The Snickers were placed on OP’s desk well after the notice that OP has the nut allergy. Hence, no way to claim ignorance. This was intentional.

      1. Daffy Duck*

        Really, this is intentional harassment that could be considered life threatening. I think they should be fired.

        1. irene adler*

          Yes! Talked me right into that!

          Those Snickers didn’t walk there by themselves.
          So you co-workers can just walk yourselves out.

        2. tangerineRose*

          Yeah, I agree. This was a mean thing to do. Why keep employees who would do this to a co-worker?

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      As someone who just had to complete our yearly 1-hour harassment prevention training course, yeah, they’d get a whole-day mandatory training session for this one; I might make them write a 1,000 word essay on the topic too. If they’re going to act like middle school bullies, they’re going to be treated like them too.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think they should have to research allergies and the deadly effects and cite their sources. Why not make it a whole term paper? >:)

    3. LCH*

      no kidding. exactly what does this behavior hope to accomplish? is it somehow going to make the allergy disappear? also, for effs sake, let the team know this was their supervisor’s doing, not the OP’s.

  23. Red*

    How childish of OPs coworkers! I work for a company where peanuts are banned outright on site. I learned of the rule, said “Darn! No PB sandwiches for lunch.” and then promptly followed said rule without complaint. Even if the manager is misinterpreting the company policy the behaviour of the coworkers is egregious in the extreme. Boss makes a rule, you follow the rule (within reason) and you don’t behave like an ass about it.

  24. Kimmybear*

    This is absolutely a straight to HR and if HR doesn’t address it strongly and absolutely, take it up the chain. Take photos of the Snickers. Print out the email from your boss. Do not trust your coworkers. Sorry this sounds harsh but I have no patience for stupidity today.

    1. Dave*

      At this point I would skip the boss and opt for a combination of HR, boss’s boss and if I had a good relationship with my old boss go to them for perspective. It is sad the number of people that need personal experience of someone with an allergy to take it seriously.

  25. Jessica will remember in November*

    I certainly agree that LW should not have to take a demotion to escape this, but should get the pay, responsibilities, and opportunities she left her old team for. On the upside, perhaps there soon be many more opportunities at this company after the WAVE OF MASS FIRINGS that desperately needs to happen.

    1. Daffy Duck*

      Exactly! The manager and Snickers person definitely need to be fired yesterday. Also, anyone who is covering for them and preferably all those who continue to be nasty.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        The manager and the people who were heard to say things should be out.

        PIP for everyone else. If it is learned who lined up the snickers (and office pranks like that tend to be well known) they should be out too.

  26. CRM*

    OP, as someone with a severe shellfish allergy, I have so much sympathy for you right now. Living with a life-threatening allergy is stressful enough, having to deal with this BS on top of it sounds like hell. I have no advice to offer, just solidarity. Most people in my office don’t understand my allergy fully (“We got some vegetarian sushi rolls just for you! They are right next to the shrimp rolls over there”) but at least they try! These people sound like absolute jerks.

  27. Exhausted Trope*

    As a person with a common food allergy, I very much feel for the hell you are experiencing, OP.
    I can’t but admire Alison’s wording, “Are these adults with fully-formed brains? Their behavior is breathtaking in its immaturity and general nastiness.”
    Must remember to use sometime.

  28. staceyizme*

    It sounds like the culture in that department originates with the manager! Who on earth would issue a directive that’s so misguided and then refuse to correct it?! Then, there’s also the fact that he made the source of the allergen issue public! What-the-WHAT?! Regardless- this was supposed to be a promotion, but you can (and should!) view this as an early warning system about what it would/ will be like to work for this particular boss and with this particular group of people. In addition to going to HR- document like your life depends on it! And- start a job hunt! There’s no way that this ends well, with you staying in your new position but in another department. If you have references with your old manager or others who will support your efforts, so much the better. I don’t think that there’s any way that you could have foreseen this level of buffoonery or asshatery… so don’t castigate yourself. Just straighten up that crown and climb on out of that pit.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yeah, “demotion” or not, this team is a complete bunch of arseholes and even if HR actually puts the hammer on them, they’re going to continue to be horrible. Fleeing is the best option. It’s not your shame to have to leave a team where every member is hostile.

      Much as I didn’t want to go back to my old team because of the nature of the work, they are all a billion times nicer than the complete turds that made me feel like shit for existing every day.

    2. staceyizme*

      Sorry. Should have said it’s unlikely that it will end well, all things considered, including the fact that this department has been allowed to marinate in its own dysfunction under this manager for whatever period of time it took to arrive at this stage.

    3. Naomi*

      OP, whatever happens next, this has given you some good information about your new manager and department–you’ve found out right away that your manager is unreasonable and will dig in his heels rather than admitting he’s wrong, and your coworkers are apparently completely devoid of empathy. So while it would suck to have to lose the promotion, don’t thinking of it as “slinking back” to your old department so much as backing away from something that’s on fire.

  29. selena*

    Those co-workers are bullies, and i think the manager is the biggest bully: he probably pulls that kind of ‘i just wanted to help’ a lot.

    The good news is that his team seems to be the exception and the rest of the company is normal. Which means HR is likely to be on OPs side.

    1. Nea*

      Because this team is the exception, I wonder if the hostility is because someone in the group had been picked by the supervisor for this position and now both supervisor and passed-over are trying to deliberately drive OP out.

      This is no excuse for the juvenile, harassing behavior — OP, run to HR as fast as you can go.

  30. I'm Not Phyllis*

    How awful! I agree with everyone saying that you should make a quick trip to HR … the snickers thing is undoubtedly harassment and not something you should be subjected to. I’m so sorry.

    I work in a building (pre-covid, anyway) where folks come in for training so we occasionally get messages saying “we have a participant with an apple/orange/nut/peanut/etc. allergy – please don’t bring those items into the building for the next week/six months.” What happens is that we read the email … and then we don’t bring that food in because a person’s health is more important than us not being able to eat a certain food AT WORK. (For the record, they can still eat whatever they want on their off hours … this is only one meal a day we’re talking about.)

  31. Ms.Vader*

    I think this really highlights the ramifications when people do indeed make up allergies at restaurants just so they can ensure they don’t get whatever food they dislike. It creates a culture of distrust and annoyance towards people that have legitimate allergies. It’s also really hard as someone with severe allergies to know if people just think you’re lying and don’t take it as serious as you should.

    Absolutely talk to HR; but also, at this stage, I would start addressing their comments like they are meant to be a discussion. So if they comment something along the lines of “people and their made up allergies” etc – ask them “I’m sorry – are you talking about my nut allergy?” Make them actually try to explain themselves – they won’t get far.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I think this really highlights the ramifications when people do indeed make up allergies at restaurants just so they can ensure they don’t get whatever food they dislike. It creates a culture of distrust and annoyance towards people that have legitimate allergies. It’s also really hard as someone with severe allergies to know if people just think you’re lying and don’t take it as serious as you should.

      To be fair, it’s usually more reliable and less problematic to tell the wait staff “I’m allergic to shellfish,” for example, than it is to say “I’m intolerant of shellfish and I’ll definitely know how many floor tiles your bathroom has before I leave your restaurant if you serve them to me, but shellfish won’t cause anaphylaxis.”

      Life would be easier for everyone if we all just took each other at face value about what we can’t and/or don’t want to consume.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        Yeah sometimes it takes “I’m allergic” for the message to get through.

        I have a friend who is allergic to onions. As you might imagine that is a fun one eating out. The simple “No onions” on a burger request? Doesn’t always happen.

    2. TiaTeapot*

      I think the problem there is food service (and other) people who won’t take customer requests seriously unless they’re told it’s the particular life-threatening problem which they’ve gotten 6 hours of training in and know they can lose their job for.
      (alt: yes, that really will give me a migraine which might knock me out for days, no, I don’t really want to run through my entire medical history and recount my routine eating habits in order for you to not put foe example cheese on my plate.)

    3. Ray Gillette*

      I see this a lot, and it always bothers me. People lying about allergies is a thing that happens sometimes, sure, but how frequently does this happen relative to how many people actually have allergies? The idea that everyone who reports having an allergy should be subject to scrutiny simply because someone somewhere lied about an allergy at some point is absurd.

      1. Liz*

        I’ve had the opposite happen to me; i despise walnuts. i’m not at all allergic but hate the taste. I also have nuts of any kind in anything like bread, muffins etc. its a texture thing too. So I’ll ask if something has them or say, if its in a salad, can the yleave them off, and had the server immediately ask if I’m allergic, etc. adn then see their relieved face when I say nope, just don’t like them. presumeably because its easier to leave them off, then make something that NO NUT has touched.

      2. Quill*

        Also, people who lie about allergies are usually either avoiding discussing other reasons for dietary restrictions, or medically misinformed but not actually harming anyone or themselves by removing a certain food from their diet. People can also be allergic or intolerant to things that aren’t the specific food they’re talking about but are part of the manufacturing process – for example, the anti-caking agent in many MSG powders (and onion powder, garlic powder…) so perceived allergy ‘hypocrites’ who can eat a food prepared one way but not another may just not know the specific source of their allergy.

        Even if you do get someone who lies “for the drama” or to force people to bow to their choice of restaurant, overall just giving them the allergen free food (assuming it’s possible) is always better than attempting to determine if they’re lying.

        1. Nic*

          Also, food proteins can denature (a.k.a. unfolding and refolding into a different shape) when exposed to various treatments like acidity, heat, etc – which means that depending on exactly what chemical it is that your body has got its knickers in a twist over, cooking a food or pickling it may change your food just enough that your body no longer recognises the problem protein.

          Source: I have a tomato intolerance, but am OK to eat ketchup, a modest amount of puree, one brand of tomato soup, and most pizza sauces (except the ones that are really leaning into their Italian heritage and use barely-cooked fresh tomato!).

    4. Observer*

      I think this really highlights the ramifications when people do indeed make up allergies at restaurants just so they can ensure they don’t get whatever food they dislike

      Nope. To the nth degree. Reasonable human beings understand that even if some people lie about a certain thing, it doesn’t mean that that thing is just completely made up. They would be highly upset if their favorite store stopped accepting returns of defective merchandise because “some people lied about merchandise being defective, so it must be that people are ALWAYS lying about it.” 1,000 x over when someone actually has an epi-pen. Doctors don’t prescribe those things just because.

      And regardless, as an adult, if the rule is “no food x” you get to roll your eyes privately if you want. You do NOT get to try to shove that food into the person’s space. That is NOT in any way, shape, or form a reasonable response to the supposed lies that people tell about this stuff.

      1. Jackalope*

        Agree with Observer here. The issue is people being a jerk, not a response to people who are trying to find a way not to have to consume a food they don’t like. Just…. don’t serve someone that food. If they tell you that they’re allergic or just say they don’t like it, either way it’s something you should take seriously.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, why do people have to lie to get what they want/need? Oh wait. It cuts into the restaurant’s profits if they have to stop and make something differently for a person.

        I avoid restaurants as much as I can. Eateries closed during Covid and I did not even really notice. There are just way too many things that do not do well with me, I am much better off eating food from home as often as possible.

        In looking at menus that do show the ingredients, I have to wonder why ONE dish can have 9000 ingredients. What happened to just plain FOOD.

    5. EnfysNest*

      I mean, the distrust is already there in the other direction because those of us with just preferences can’t trust the food places to give us our food correctly because they don’t take it seriously enough. I would never claim an allergy that I don’t have, but I understand the frustration that can lead people to that option. Cheese or tomatoes on my burger won’t make me ill, but it will make it essentially inedible for me, and then I have to decide whether it’s worth the hassle to return it and wait for a replacement or if I’ll just tough it out and try to scrape off the cheese goop and/or cut off the parts of the bread already soaked in tomato juices. And, frankly, it shouldn’t matter to the restaurant if I have an allergy or a preference (as long as I’m not specifically asking them to do a full deep clean before prepping my dish if mine isn’t an allergy) – I’m paying for a burger with no tomato, so that’s what I should get, no matter whether the tomato will make my mouth itch or just taste gross.

      No one should be debating or even thinking about if anyone’s food preferences are “real” vs allergy-related, they should just respect those choices when it’s something as simple as leaving off the offending ingredient.

    6. Elliott*

      I don’t think people should lie about having allergies, but I disagree that it’s responsible for things like this. People can lie about anything, and reasonable people should realize that that isn’t an excuse to be jerks to people who may be telling the truth.

      Also, not everyone experiences allergies or food intolerances in the same way, and I think it’s important for people to realize that they’re not experts about other people’s medical conditions. For example, someone who says they’re allergic to tree nuts might be seen as a liar if they eat peanuts, but peanuts aren’t tree nuts and not everyone who is allergic to one is always allergic to both. It’s always better to give people to benefit of the doubt as long as it’s not hurting anyone.

    7. I'm just here for the cats*

      I wonder if OP has talked to the team openly. Say “I told Boss that I can be around nuts, I just can’t eat it. It’s not a problem if you have a peanut butter sandwich.” followed by “I don’t understand why boss has banned all nuts being that it’s not a problem for me. I just told him so that If I didn’t partake in team potlucks it wasn’t anything personal and if something happened he would know where my EpiPen is and what to do. ”

      That might tamper down some of the comments.

      1. Elenna*

        Eh, if it was just a few angry comments I could maybe see this working, but they’re literally putting stuff that could kill LW onto their desk! I think we’ve passed the point of “maybe these are reasonable people who can be reasoned with”.

        1. The Other One*

          LW’s coworkers are clearly jerks. Her boss, by all indications, is an idiot. That said, enough with the hyperbole. LW made it very clear in the OP that simply being around nuts does not bother her and her allergies will only flare up if she ingests them. Folks need to quit acting like a wrapped Snickers bar on her desk is akin to attempted murder. Juvenile, boorish, stupid, mean – yes. Trying to kill LW – no. (And this isn’t directed only at you. Others have tried to make similar comments throughout the thread.). And I’ll repeat – as I’m sure some will take this as taking up for the coworkers – the coworkers are jerks and the boss is an idiot.

          1. Jackalope*

            I agree with you that this isn’t something that COULD actually kill the OP. I think some of the reason the others are responding like this is that as far as the co-workers know the allergies are deadly and they’re doing it anyway. As far as they know this is deadly, which is what makes the behavior so awful.

          2. Observer*

            Nope, no hyperbole here. The *OP* knows that the snickers bars won’t harm them as long as they don’t touch or eat them. But the manager is acting as though it’s dangerous for the OP to be around them and explicitly refused to enlighten the team. So *THEY* think that the OP “officially” COULD be hurt by just having the snickers on their keyboard. And since they are clearly NOT being hurt by the snickers it “proves” that the OP is “lying”.

            OP – I do think you should send out an email laying out what the danger to you is. Responses should tell you a lot.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              THIS. It’s the malicious intent behind the act that’s sending up red flags for posters here.

              1. Brisvegan*

                Yep, it looks like a threat. Even if the jerk who does it thinks it’s hilarious, they think it’s hilarious to put something that could kill OP on OP’s keyboard. It’s OP’s discomfort, upset, feelings of rejection and/or fear that gives the snickers person their jollies.

          3. Elenna*

            FWIW I wasn’t suggesting that it was actually attempted murder (although Observer makes a good point that as far as the coworkers know it might actually harm LW), but more that it could definitely be taken as a threat. Someone above compared it to putting bullets on someone’s desk – obviously bullets by themselves are not going to kill you, but it would still be super creepy and threatening. That’s what I was referring to – the threat factor of “here’s a thing that could kill you”, even if it’s obviously not going to kill LW in that form.

        2. Amaranth*

          I agree that it might have fixed the situation before it ran off the rails, but now that OP knows what kind of people these are, I think it would be tough to forget.

  32. Silly Goose*

    Oh my! I am sorry you work with a bunch of jerks!

    I agree that this was a definite HR territory. However, it might (maybe, possibly) help if there are one or two people who seem to not make these comments and are nicer seeming to mention, “It’s so weird that Fergus banned nuts. I only wanted him to know that I can’t participate in pot lucks and such! I don’t need this kind of accommodation, but maybe he has a family member who does or something…”
    And make it about Fergus. That might make it more tolerable in the meantime.

    1. White rabbit*

      +1 Doesn’t excuse their actions so far but could help improve things going forward. Get the truth out there.

  33. Xavier Desmond*

    I think Allison’s advice is correct but if it were me i would take the demotion tbh. Nothing is worth working with people like this.

  34. Myrin*

    Would it make sense for OP to talk to a lawyer for guidance as well? I know that I would want to know what – if any – legal recourse I’d have here but I don’t know if that’s just an unrealistic idea I’m having.

  35. LW*

    Thank you so much for your response Alison it really is appreciated.
    I wasn’t sure if I was just over reacting in letting it upset me so much so hearing everyone’s responses has been massively helpful.
    I’m on a half day today but I’ve emailed the HR lead and have set up a phonecall for tomorrow morning.
    The company in general is great and I’ve never had any issues like this before. This one department and manager has a negative reputation throughout the business. One of the responsibilities of my new role is improving communication between this department and others so we follow a one team approach. I expected a lot of kick back as it is changing established processes and that’s always difficult. What I never expected was too be personally bullied as a result.
    Hopefully HR will be able to help. If not we have a whistle blowing process which I can report anonymously too if needed as well.

    1. bunniferous*

      Well, looks like you have found the issue! Seriously, I wish you success in your career and I hope that HR deals with these people forthwith. How anyone can be so awful is beyond me.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      I’m glad you will check in with HR. You’re not overreacting and this isn’t something you need to tiptoe around. Your manager was unprofessional in the way he handled this (disclosing your name in connection with a medical condition to start with – which he didn’t need to do if he was outright banning nuts, but also everything after that). I hope HR is helpful. You obviously haven’t done anything wrong and don’t deserve this treatment.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This adds a whole other dimension to it: they are trying to harass you out, so you do not do your job and upset their little viper’s nest.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree. Tell HR that you need a second person on this with you. That snickers bar was equal to a death wish. If HR is smart they will pull you out of this situation. Your chances of having any impact on this boss are nil, I dunno about the individuals in the department. That boss has to go ASAP.

    4. Washi*

      Based on this, I’m guessing that the toxic manager and his flying monkeys didn’t like that you were coming in to try to improve things and were determined to bully you no matter what, and settled on the nut thing. I’m glad you’ve gone to HR and hopefully they will do some cleaning house!

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Yes! They must have thought Christmas had come early to find something so ‘easy’ to seize upon.

    5. Amber Rose*

      Come back and update us please. At the very least, I’d like to know you’re doing OK at some point.

      I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed for a helpful meeting with HR.

    6. Observer*

      OK, so this is totally not about people being ignorant. This department is simply living up to it’s bad reputation. Clearly they earned it!

      The department actually doesn’t WANT to communicate better and they are using your allergy as a way to bully you out of the place. And the rot starts at the top of the department.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        the rot starts at the top of the department.

        OP, wait to see what comes out of your meeting with HR, but unfortunately I feel that you are in the (all too common) position where you’ve been ‘installed’ into somewhere as a change agent, but without the tools or organisational backing to really achieve that. One cannot ‘change’ a culture or practices that are quite clearly supported and upheld by the manager you’re reporting to! Even without the bullying, allergy aspect I suspect it would be very difficult or impossible to change things in the situation you describe.

        I’m sorry you have been put in this situation.

    7. Elliott*

      I’m glad you contacted HR.

      It sounds like the department (including the manager) resents you being there and they’re trying to bully you out. It looks like their bad reputation is well-deserved. Hopefully this will be taken seriously.

    8. AKchic*

      You’ve found the reason for their negative reputation. The manager is the reason. The manager’s toxicity is contagious and it has spread to the entire team. The company is going to want to do some house-cleaning.

    9. learnedthehardway*

      In addition to HR, I would speak with the grandboss or whoever it was in upper management who put you into the role to make these changes. It doesn’t sound like it was the manager who made the decision, given his department’s overall reputation. In fact, it sounds like he and his team are very deliberately resisting your appointment to the role, and whatever changes are necessary to the business. Your grandboss needs to know about this – this is a level of resistance that means some people are going to need to be fired before others on the team are willing to make changes.

      In fact, I would consider whether it was the team members or the manager who put those Snickers bars on your desk. Don’t assume the manager is simply setting up the situation. I think it is entirely likely that he is creating most of the situation, as a way to run you off, so he doesn’t have to make changes in his little empire.

      1. AKchic*

        That is a very likely possibility. The manager has a vested interest in getting the LW out of the position and away from his little fiefdom.

      2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        It seemed clear to me (I only inferred it, admittedly, but it seemed clearly written between the lines) that the manager wasn’t the one who recruited the OP, nor (probably) had any intention of having a new person in this role of “shaking things up”.

        I can understand (though don’t agree with!) the manager and existing team’s resistance to an ‘outsider’ coming in to shake up the way things are done, per se, although obviously I don’t support the bullying behaviour!

        Yes, grandboss needs to know about this, but I am sceptical of it resulting in any real change, because if they accepted the need for real change they would have ‘cleaned house’ before and rebuilt, rather than expect someone to be able to do this for them – all imo of course.

        I wonder if the manager was promoted from among peers and they are still all ‘friendly’ in that way? I feel like this may be the case, but perhaps OP can shed some light on that?

    10. Daffy Duck*

      Please update us on what happens! If the company knows this group is a problem and doesn’t come down on them like a load of bricks the issue is definitely systemic. It is easier to start over from scratch than try to “fix” a hostile group that reinforces each other’s bad behavior.

    11. Mimmy*

      Wow oh wow, LW! Please keep us posted on this, their behavior towards you is awful, downright cruel even.

    12. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

      I am late to the comments, but you are not overreacting. I have an anaphylactic honey allergy, and two newly diagnosed GI disorders that greatly limit what I can eat. I work at a company that has monthly safety lunches, and an office that brings in snacks for sharing from time to time. And you know what? They make an effort to make sure I can participate safely, even if it means a separately ordered dish. No one makes snide comments (well, I might comment that those doughnuts look really good but we’d all regret me having one), no one leaves stuff that could leave me hospitalized or sick at home for days on my desk, they all act like compassionate, mature adults. Something that isn’t all that hard to do. The only people overreacting are your coworkers, by taking this to such a personal level.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        That’s been my experience. Those who act like immature asses or otherwise give you grief about a diagnosed medical condition are saying a lot more about themselves than anyone else.

  36. notacompetition*

    Forgive me if someone has already said this, but isn’t it also illegal (depending on where you live) to out someone’s medical info like that? Wouldn’t that be some health law violation? Manager really shouldn’t have named the person with the allergy to begin with.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you’re thinking about HIPAA, then no, it wouldn’t apply. HIPAA controls information within a healthcare setting. If you work in a general office, and management releases your personal health information, it may be against a policy (or even a law, depending?) but not against HIPAA.

  37. La Triviata*

    I have seen elsewhere posts that tell people – mostly servers in restaurants and coffee places – that if someone specifically asks for something to be excluded, to do so. They’ve pointed out specifics – as in, if someone asks for decaf, don’t give them caffeinated because you don’t want to start a new pot; if they ask whether something contains dairy, let them know. A number of them elicited comments from people saying that they have an allergy/sensitivity and have ended up sick or in the hospital because someone didn’t feel their issue was worth paying attention to. I find it incomprehensible that people won’t take these things seriously.

    1. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Exactly. We should just take people at their words. Sure there are people out there who may lie about an allergy to avoid something they don’t like but – why would you want to force someone to eat something they don’t like anyway? And also I don’t think that’s as common as it seems. It’s just not worth the risk of impacting someone’s health when just, you know, not bringing a peanut or almond butter sandwich to work and bringing something else instead, is so simple!

  38. Madeleine Matilda*

    This department sounds like a nightmare to work in. I hope OP can get out even if the nut issue can be resolved. If this is how your manager and co-workers react to your allergy, I would imagine they will be just as horrible with work problems that come up. OP, I hope you can find a better position in your company.

  39. employment lawyah*

    That’s NUTS.

    Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

    Seriously, your coworkers are assholes.

    It is, in fact, theoretically possible for a company to have a full-allergy ban for such things. It’s a liability cover. But this situation is bizarre and AAM’s advice is spot on.

      1. Laura H.*

        You seem wonderful LW! I hope you get this figured out.

        I needed the laugh today (not at your expense, your humor just tickled me.)

  40. Wren*

    We’re in illegal harassment territory at this point, but earlier on, with the snarky comments, I might have said, “I can’t eat a peanut butter sandwich but I honestly don’t have a problem with you eating one. It’s Boss who has some idea that there is legal liability if s/he allows it, even though I said a departmental peanut ban wasn’t necessary.”

    But I’m not sure if it’s a bad idea to outright undermine your boss’ edict on something like this.

    1. nonegiven*

      That’s a communication problem right there, the way the manager handled the allergy information. He either doesn’t listen or doesn’t care, he just does what will cause someone else the most problems.

  41. Empress Matilda*

    Good grief, these people are horrible. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this, and I hope HR has a good resolution for you.

  42. Elizabeth West*

    Your boss is an ass, your coworkers are asses, and if HR doesn’t take care of this swiftly and effectively and discipline anyone who tries to retaliate, then they are asses too.
    I’m sorry you have to deal with this, OP. It’s outrageous.

  43. Amy*

    Once again, an AAM letter makes me so grateful for my company and my teammates. LW, I wish you a swift resolution to this.

  44. Myrin*

    I’m also wondering if it would’ve made sense and/or been appropriate for OP to reply-all to the original email her manager sent out and set the facts straight right then and there?

    1. Firecat*

      I was going to recommend that OP do some damage control. Not that they should have too, but if they want to stay on this team they should make a point of responding to some folks.

      “Man people and their fake allergies making our lives suck”
      OP said kindly but loudly enough for others to overhear. Hey. I want to let you know that I was very clear with boss that my allergy is not one that requires a nut ban. He insisted on the nut ban anyway. I have a severe allergy, one that causes anaphalaxis and an epi pen if I consume nuts, however thankfully it’s not the kind that is triggered by nuts in the facility.

      Then if you overhear complaints again:
      Jane “Attention seeker”
      Hi Jane – is there something I can clear up for you?

      Then when Jane waffles or mutters or whatever:
      “Jane I’ve been really clear about this. I have a legitimate life threatening allergy. I don’t appreciate you calling me an attention seeker. Please stop”

      Then if it happens again:
      Jane I’ve already asked you to stop this behavior several times. What’s the issue?

      Then be sure to mention specifics to HR and that you attempted to resolve yourself.

  45. Observer*

    OP, people are being impossibly horrible. I agree with going to HR.

    I’m wondering if it might make sense to send out an email to the team thanking everyone who is not being a jerk, and “oh, by the way, this business about being a nut free department was not my idea and this is the first department I’ve been in where this was the policy”?

  46. JJJBB*

    This is also a privacy violation. He can be sued for disclosing private medical information. That he did so against OP’s wishes and had doubled down says that HE’s the one who is acting illegally and can be sued both through the company and personally.

    1. Observer*

      Almost certainly not the case. At least in the US, there is actually very little privacy protection and health information is legally protected only in a healthcare or insurance context.

  47. Jasperred*

    Every time I cook for people for the first time I ask about allergies, food you don’t like, stuff like that. I’m not about to poison somebody. I also include a little note that lists allergens if it’s at work or like a potluck. Just because my immediate coworkers may not have an allergy doesn’t mean no one else does either.

    I really hate how crappy people are about this and it does boil down to “I don’t know how to convince you to care about other people”. These people call you a snowflake for having food allergies or intolerances but then do things like this.

    1. tangerineRose*

      I have a brownie recipie that I made up that includes peanut butter, so I always mention that it has peanut butter before offering them. I don’t want anyone to get sick or die from something I’ve done!

  48. Lady Heather*

    OP, if you happen to be in the EU, this almost certainly is a violation of the GDPR. Your country should have a privacy office where you can ask questions, like whether this is a violation and what to do about it if it is. Your org should also have a privacy person in charge of GDPR compliance, but they may not have a clue what they are doing. Though if you’re in a larger org, hopefully they will.

  49. Emma*

    Oh OP, I am sorry this is happening to you! You are being bullied at work and this harassment should not be allowed to go on a second longer.

    Take pictures of the snickers on your desk, save every email, gather all the evidence you can, and lawyer up!

  50. lazy intellectual*

    People can’t act right and this is why we don’t deserve nice things.

    The rule is stupid but that doesn’t give people the right to take it out on the LW and start bullying her. I could not imagine coworkers behaving this way and have no idea how a bunch of immature people managed to get employed.

    At the same time though, besides the obvious reasons why this rule doesn’t make sense, I wish the manager had the sense to foresee this kind of effect – that the LW would feel embarrassed and self conscious and coworkers might resent the LW and take their frustration with the rule out on her. Even in a more civilized office, I can see people side eyeing the LW wondering why she caused nuts to be banned.

  51. Managercanuck*

    As someone with an unusual food allergy (oral allergy syndrome), I’m horrified for you. What a terrible group of people, the complete opposite of the way it should be.

  52. tamarack and fireweed*

    Yeah. This is all appalling, and I sign my name to every piece of Alison’s advice.

    I would probably be tempted myself to try to chip away at the bad behavior. Email is probably doomed to failure and might be held in evidence against the LW – so in email she would have to be almost a master of the craft of scrupulously professional messaging. But in person, maybe taking one of the apparently more reasonable colleagues aside and have a conversation that starts with “I need to bring up something about the work climate that’s hard to talk about, and frankly I’ve made the experience that this kind of conversation can be taken badly, but here it is”, then calmly state what the allergy situation is, how it’s been handled before, what the LW did (informed the boss) … and her desire to have the current situation stop.

    (Also, if it’s legal, I’d probably get a small automatic camera to have a photo of whoever puts the mini-Snickers on her desk.)

  53. Caryn Z*

    WOW these people in the office are mean and nasty. My nephew has a nut allergy and could die! Why do they think it’s fake? And the snickers bars, wow. Horrible people.

    1. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

      I have a seafood allergy and noticed that around 2000, people began accusing me of faking my allergy. Some people would even try to test me. I don’t know what caused this shift, but it makes life miserable when you cannot trust the food you are served.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I wonder if the shift is because of the Gluten-Free craze. So many people started saying they were allergic to gluten when they weren’t, they just wanted to be gluten-free because of various reasons. Which is fine, if you feel better without gluten, go for it. But you shouldn’t say you have an allergy if you don’t.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          No, it happened just as the peanut allergy and nut-free zone thing became common in schools. I saw the incredulous stories online of adults who thought other adults were just making this up so their kids could be special or whatever. It’s dumb.

  54. OhBehave*

    I sincerely hope you have a great HR department! This is so horrible to read.
    This is one of those letters that everyone wants an immediate update submitted!

  55. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

    I have a serious seafood and shellfish allergy. I swell up and get hives. It is painful and scary looking (Think the movie “Hitch”). I also live in an area where seafood is often the main dish. What boggles me is the belief that allergies are fake. This is not something I have ever had to deal with prior to 2000. Then all of a sudden people – who knew better – would “forget” the oyster oil added to their sauces, or encourage me to try seafood again because people grow out of allergies. Life is already hard when you can’t enjoy the same foods everyone else enjoys, but to be bullied about it too is just the worst. Solidarity OP.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      because people grow out of allergies.

      How many people need to die or be sickened by that fantasy?!

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I actually do know some people who have grown out of their allergies from childhood. 2 sisters, one allergic to chocolate, (mild, itchy, type thing nothing bad) the other peanuts that could land her in the hospital. She had gone to ER a few times when she was little. Then one day when she was in her late teens she accidentally ate some of her friend’s peanut butter milkshake and she was fine.

        However, it is rare and no one should force or trick someone into trying their allergin “just to see” because yes you could grow out of it but it’s just as likely that you have become even more sensitive to it and have an even worse reaction.

        1. KoiFeeder*

          I “grew out of” my asthma, in that it no longer gets triggered in my normal state of affairs. If I moved to Colorado or tried to run a marathon, though, it’d come back with a vengeance. It’s more that I’ve avoided triggering my asthma enough that things have healed rather than any actual “loss” of it.

          My brother “grew out” of being allergic to tree nuts, except he hadn’t, his sensitivity had just decreased to the point where he stopped reacting. Once he started eating them again, his sensitivity went right back up and he “once again” was allergic to them.

          Which is just a really complicated and anecdotal way of saying that while I’m not gonna tell people what to do with their lives, I wouldn’t be inclined to expose someone to an allergen they’d been avoiding since childhood. I trust that they know what they’re talking about.

      2. Lynn*

        My sister and I both grew out of several childhood allergies (she grew into new ones, I didn’t-at least not yet). I wouldn’t say it is a fantasy since it does happen-though I have zero clue on how common/rare it is.

        That said, assuming that everyone will grow out of them is ridiculous. And harassing and bullying people about it is inexcusable.

      3. Sylvan*

        It happens. Obviously it’s not good to assume it’s happened to somebody else (if your childhood friend was allergic to peanuts, assume they’re still allergic to peanuts!).

      4. Uly*

        Oh, it does happen, possibly more often than we know because of course people who are severely allergic to, say, nuts don’t just go up and eat nuts yearly to see if that’s stopped being a problem.

        The proper way to find out if it’s happened to you is to go to an allergist and get re-tested.

    2. UKDancer*

      I really don’t get why people don’t believe others when they say they can’t eat X. I am not technically allergic to shellfish but I’ve had bad experiences a couple of times when I’ve had them (involving puking and feeling awful). After this I never want to eat them again because it reminds me how ill I was so I tend to say “no shellfish” when I’m looking at menus. I went to a restaurant with a senior colleague while on business in Baltimore and he kept trying to get me to order Maryland Crab Cakes because they were apparently legendary in the restaurant he’d dragged me to. No amount of persuading him would get him to understand that I might not be technically allergic but I really didn’t want to be ill while we were at this conference so could he just let me eat my steak and stop trying to get me to eat the shellfish and crustacean specialties of the restaurant.

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        That actually kind of sounds like an allergy, or at least a sensitivity. You dont have to go have hives and go into anaphylactic shock to be allergic to something. If that happens again I would say “I get extremely ill, to the point that several things happen that is not fit for dinner conversation. Please stop asking, I cannot eat it.”
        I have started to develop a sensitivity or an intolerance to any form of artificial sweetener, and even some more “natural” sweeteners like Monk Fruit and Truvia. My body just rejects it.

  56. yala*

    I’m just legit boggled.

    Like. This all sounds SUPER illegal. Manager directly naming you and your medical condition without your permission could be an honest mistake (but is still really bad), but everything else is just deliberately targeting and taunting you because of a disability. That’s definitely not legal.

    Like, HR needs to find out WHO, and that person needs to not be there anymore, because there are mistakes, and then there’s deliberate malice and endangerment. Wtf.