Customers are suing Dunkin’ for allegedly charging extra for non-dairy milk substitutes, saying its not “right.”
Dunkin’ Is In Hot Coffee Over Charges
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Dunkin over discrimination against people with lactose intolerance and milk allergies.
Plaintiffs allege that Dunkin’s practice of imposing hefty surcharges, exceeding a dollar in some cases, for non-dairy milk alternatives may not accurately reflect the actual cost of these alternatives, leading to accusations that Dunkin might be profiting from those with specific dietary needs.
Depending largely on the location, stores charge 50 cents to $2.15 more for the drinks, says the suit, which was filed by 10 plaintiffs in federal court in the Northern District of California. The filing says the practice also violates state anti-discrimination laws, the Messenger reports.
Dunkin’ has pulled in more than $250 million by levying the surcharge, the plaintiffs claim.
The stores substitute whole milk or fat-free skim milk for the standard 2% milk in its drinks at no extra charge and otherwise modify drinks to suit customers’ tastes or health needs, the suit says.
Dunkin’ discriminates against those with lactose intolerance and milk allergies, both of which are disabilities, and unjustly enriches itself by upcharging for non-dairy alternatives, the lawsuit alleges.
Anywhere from 30 million to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, according to the Boston Children’s Hospital. Recent studies have found approximately 36% of people in the U.S. have some form of lactose intolerance, and the lawsuit claims that percentage may actually be as high as 48%.
This investigation draws parallels with a similar case involving Starbucks, which faced legal action over comparable non-dairy milk upcharges.
If the class action lawsuit becomes successful, Dunkin customers who are lactose intolerant or have milk allergies may be able to get back some of the extra money they had to pay to add non-dairy milk to their drinks. It could also force the coffee chain to remove the surcharge.