Class action lawsuit accuses Dunkin’ of discrimination for charging extra for non-dairy milk alternatives

Two of the new double-walled paper cups rest beside the styrofoam one, right, that was used at Dunkin at a location in Boston in 2019. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Dunkin' is facing a class action lawsuit asking for at least $5 million in damages from a group of plaintiffs accusing the coffee giant of discriminating against customers who suffer from lactose intolerance and milk allergies by charging them extra for non-diary alternatives. 

The 25-page lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, says when the plaintiffs visited Dunkin’ coffee shops, they "ordered drinks that included milk as part of the regular menu item" and were charged up to $2.15 for them to be made with non-dairy alternatives, "specifically soy, oat, coconut, or almond ‘milk.’" 

It continues to say that Dunkin’ will modify its "regular beverage offerings to remove caffeine or make caffeine-free beverages at no additional charge for persons with a variety of conditions, including hypertension," and will alter the sugar content of drinks "for those persons with diabetes or who need to control weight." 

"Dunkin’ advises customers to inform the ‘server’ if there is a food allergy and informs them that their products may contain or may have come in contact with allergens," the lawsuit states. "However, they only accommodate those with lactose intolerance or allergies to milk by imposing a surcharge." 


The lawsuit claims those conditions are disabilities and by charging more for drinks with non-dairy alternatives, Dunkin’s "conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act" and other state anti-discrimination laws. 

Dunkin’ did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday from FOX Business. 

The lawsuit, obtained and posted by the website, was filed on behalf of 10 plaintiffs in various states and says they have been ordering drinks from Dunkin' from at least 2018 to the present. 


It says they will "suffer adverse health effects if they ingest milk or milk-containing products, including stomach pain, digestive tract inflammation, bloating, bowel irregularities and vomiting." 

At one point, the filing says Dunkin’s revenue in 2021 exceeded $1.4 billion and, "Because of its size, Dunkin has the power to control the manufacturing costs for Non-Dairy Alternatives." 

"Plaintiffs... seek declaratory and injunctive relief to ensure that Defendant charges the same price to lactose intolerant customers and customers with milk allergies for the same menu items as regular customers and that it does not add a Surcharge for Non-Dairy Alternatives such as soy, almond, coconut, oat, or other lactose-free ‘milk," the lawsuit also says. 

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