Dunkin’ Donuts Faces $5 Million Lawsuit for Discriminating Against Lactose Intolerant Customers

Los Angeles, California – Dunkin’ Donuts is facing a $5 million class-action federal lawsuit for allegedly discriminating against lactose intolerant customers. The lawsuit claims that the donut shop charges extra for nondairy alternatives such as oat or almond milk, which are often used as substitutes for regular milk in coffee or tea. The plaintiffs argue that this surcharge violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the complaint filed in the Northern District of California, the extra charge for nondairy alternatives has real consequences for individuals with lactose intolerance and milk allergies. These individuals, who require nondairy alternatives for medical reasons, are forced to pay an additional $0.50 to $2.15 for a coffee-based drink at Dunkin’ compared to those who choose regular milk additions. The lawsuit argues that the use of nondairy alternatives is not a choice for these individuals but a necessity.

The plaintiffs assert that the surcharge is unjustified because the cost of nondairy alternatives is not significantly higher than that of dairy milk. Additionally, they claim that Dunkin’ employees do not have to go through any extra efforts to provide customers with nondairy alternatives. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, public accommodations are required to make reasonable modifications to ensure equal treatment for individuals with disabilities.

The lawsuit further cites the ADA provision that prohibits the imposition of surcharges on individuals or groups with disabilities to cover the costs of necessary accommodations. A total of 10 plaintiffs from California, Hawaii, and New York, all of whom have milk allergies, are named in the suit. Since its filing, more than 50 others have expressed their intention to join the lawsuit.

Chelsea Garland, one of the plaintiffs, joined the lawsuit because she believes that the extra charge levied by Dunkin’ for nondairy milk is unjust. In a statement, Garland emphasized the personal impact of the surcharge and her belief that it violates the rights of lactose intolerant individuals. Dunkin’ Donuts has not yet provided a comment regarding the lawsuit.

The outcome of this case could have significant implications not only for Dunkin’ Donuts but also for other establishments that impose additional charges for nondairy alternatives. As the plaintiffs seek $5 million in damages, the lawsuit shines a light on the issue of accessibility and discrimination faced by individuals with milk allergies or lactose intolerance.