Discrimination Lawsuit Challenges Dunkin’ Donuts’ Extra Charge for Non-Dairy Milk

Recent developments have brought to light a significant legal battle involving Dunkin’ Donuts, a popular coffee and doughnut chain. The company is facing a class-action lawsuit over its policy of charging extra for non-dairy milk options in its beverages. This policy has sparked controversy, with plaintiffs alleging that it discriminates against customers who are lactose intolerant or have milk allergies, thereby violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Basis of the Lawsuit

At the heart of the lawsuit is the claim that Dunkin’ Donuts’ surcharge for substituting oat or almond milk for dairy milk constitutes discrimination. The plaintiffs, represented by attorney Bogdan Enica, argue that lactose intolerance and milk allergies should be recognized as disabilities under the ADA. This federal law mandates that public entities make reasonable modifications to their policies and practices to accommodate individuals with disabilities, unless such modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of their goods or services.

Understanding Lactose Intolerance and Milk Allergies

Lactose intolerance and milk allergies are health conditions that prevent many individuals from consuming dairy products. Lactose intolerance involves the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and dairy products, leading to digestive issues. Milk allergies, on the other hand, involve an immune response to the proteins in milk, which can cause a range of symptoms from mild to severe. For these individuals, non-dairy alternatives like oat or almond milk are not just preferences but necessities.

Comparing to Other Beverage Modifications

The lawsuit highlights that Dunkin’ Donuts already offers modifications such as decaffeinated and sugar-free options at no additional cost for customers with conditions like diabetes, weight-control issues, or hypertension. This practice raises questions about the fairness of charging extra for non-dairy milk, which is equally essential for those with lactose intolerance or milk allergies.

Broader Implications in the Food and Beverage Industry

This legal challenge against Dunkin’ Donuts is not an isolated case. It follows a similar lawsuit filed against Starbucks in 2022, also led by Enica’s law firm. These cases reflect a growing concern in the food and beverage industry about the equitable treatment of customers with dietary restrictions or health-related needs. The outcomes of these lawsuits could set important precedents for how businesses accommodate such customers.

Customer Perspectives and Legal Ramifications

Many customers, like Chelsea Garland, a lactose-intolerant woman from San Diego, have expressed their support for the lawsuit, citing the unfairness of being charged more for a product that is essential to their health. Legal experts, including Arlene Kanter, the director of Syracuse University’s Disability Law and Policy program, believe the lawsuit presents a strong case for discrimination under the ADA. The lawsuit seeks damages of no less than $5,000,000, reflecting the seriousness of the issue and the potential impact on the plaintiffs.

Looking Ahead

As the lawsuit progresses, it will be interesting to observe how Dunkin’ Donuts and other companies in the industry respond. The case raises important questions about the responsibilities of businesses to accommodate customers with disabilities and the broader implications for pricing policies. The resolution of this lawsuit could lead to significant changes in how food and beverage companies approach the pricing of alternative options for customers with dietary restrictions or health-related needs.

The legal battle against Dunkin’ Donuts over its extra charge for non-dairy milk is more than just a dispute over pricing. It is a reflection of the ongoing conversation about inclusivity, accessibility, and the rights of individuals with disabilities in the consumer market. As this case unfolds, it will undoubtedly shed light on the evolving landscape of consumer rights and business practices in the food and beverage industry.


  1. If it turns out that the alternatives to milk or cream cost more, thus validating the surcharge, the suit is frivolous. These companies should not be required to pay for any additional costs of plaintiffs’ health care concerns. It is not discrimination to require customers to pay for the cost of goods and services they receive.

  2. This is another INSANE lawsuit. I just looked it up. Almond milk costs 2x whole milk at our local grocery store. DK should be getting kudos for providing customers with options to accommodate them. I have diabetes. I’m thrilled when I go to a restaurant and they are willing to do a substitution like broccoli instead of pasta. What’s next? Requiring all retailers to charge the same for substitute products like almond milk? All that will do is drive up the cost for everybody.

    I hope these class action attorneys are doing this all on a contingency, pile up lots of billable hours, and then get a judgment against them and also have to pay DK’s attorney fees. That would be justice.

  3. Everyone thinks they are special and have special rights. As long as the prices are based on the products being provided there should be no problem. If I were Dunkin’ D I’d just drop all of the non-dairy garbage and let the people provide their own.


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