Class Action Suit Says Dunkin’ Discriminates Against the Lactose Intolerant

(NationalUSNews.com) — Dunkin’ Donuts is currently involved in a $5 million class-action lawsuit, which accuses the donut company of acting in a discriminatory manner against lactose-intolerant people. The premise of the lawsuit relates to Dunkin’ Donuts’ decision to charge customers more for nondairy items, including almond milk. Dunkin’ Donuts also charges customers extra if they want to substitute milk with tea or coffee, another discriminatory decision, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs said that Dunkin’ Donuts is violating a federal law protecting people with disabilities.

The plaintiffs claim that Dunkin’ Donuts’ higher pricing policy goes against the Americans with Disabilities Act. This grave accusation could result in heavy fines and additional scrutiny for the donut franchise. Among the issues identified in the federal lawsuit is the “Non-Dairy Alternative Surcharge,” which forces customers to pay up to an additional $2 for drinks without dairy products. The lawsuit’s plaintiffs claim that people suffering from lactose intolerance require non-dairy alternatives and that forcing the lactose intolerant to pay an additional fee is equivalent to discrimination.

Another argument featured in the lawsuit is that the non-dairy alternative surcharge isn’t required, as the cost of providing non-dairy products isn’t significantly higher than standard milk, and Dunkin’ Donuts’ employees don’t have to do extra work to offer non-dairy products. The lawsuit’s originators refer to the Americans with Disabilities Act’s definition of lactose intolerance or milk allergies, which identifies the condition as a disability. The ADA also requires businesses to make public accommodations for those with disabilities, giving rise to the suit against Dunkin’ Donuts.

Another provision of the ADA established that a business providing a public accommodation, such as the aforementioned non-dairy alternative, cannot impose an additional charge on a person who has a disability. The ADA defines a surcharge for an accommodation as discrimination, which is the main accusation of the lawsuit. So far, only ten people are suing Dunkin’ Donuts in federal court, but more could join in the coming months due to the media coverage surrounding the legal battle.

The lawsuit features people with milk allergies from several states, including California and New York. Attorney Bogdan Enica is the plaintiff-side attorney for the legal battle and claimed that more than 50 people have requested to join the class-action lawsuit since Bogdan filed it in December. Despite the national media attention regarding the federal lawsuit, Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t providing a comment at this time.

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