January 4, 2024 – Investigation Complete, Lawsuit Filed
Thanks to everyone who reached out to help with the investigation. The investigation is now complete and at least one lawsuit has been filed, which you can read about here.
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At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Dunkin customers with lactose intolerance or milk allergies who had to pay extra for non-dairy milk in their drinks.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether a class action lawsuit can be filed alleging Dunkin is discriminating against consumers who have milk allergies or lactose intolerance by levying a surcharge for dairy milk alternatives.
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
If filed and 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.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org would like to speak to Dunkin customers who have milk allergies or lactose intolerance and had to pay extra to have their drinks made with non-dairy milk.
It’s being investigated whether Dunkin discriminates against these individuals by levying a considerable surcharge – in some cases, more than a dollar – for dairy milk alternatives. Attorneys believe the upcharge is not in line with how much non-dairy milk actually costs and that Dunkin may be profiting off those with lactose intolerance and milk allergies.
Starbucks has already been sued over the issue – and attorneys believe Dunkin could also face a discrimination lawsuit for its non-dairy milk upcharges.
Are Milk Allergies and Lactose Intolerance Covered by the ADA?
The ADA defines a disability as physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a “major life activity,” which includes eating and the “operation of a major bodily function,” such as digestion and other functions of the gastrointestinal system.
The Act also specifies, importantly, that a place of public accommodation – such as a restaurant, hotel or store – cannot impose a surcharge on a disabled individual to cover the cost of measures that are required to provide that person with the “nondiscriminatory treatment required by the Act.”
Attorneys believe that Dunkin’s non-dairy milk surcharge, in addition to potentially being illegal, is excessive in that there is not enough of a cost difference between cow’s milk and milk alternatives to warrant the 0.25 to $1.00-plus per-drink upcharge.
Customer Complaints: Milk Alternative Surcharges
Dunkin customers – both those who cannot drink milk and those who prefer non-dairy options – have taken to Reddit.com to voice their complaints about the surcharges. Consumers have noted varying surcharges based on location and even beverage selection, with one Dunkin customer noting a $1.49 fee for adding a “splash” of oat milk. Many have also complained that their “free” rewards drinks are not really free as they still have to pay extra for a milk alternative.
A sample of these complaints can be read below [sic throughout, emphasis ours]:
They charged me 6 dollars for what they said was 4 pumps of almond milk plus the price of the coffee and an extra turbo shot I ended up paying over 10 dollars for a coffee” — NeedleworkerAfter928, Reddit.com
Yeah, a few ones by me started charging $1 for it and it’s such a bummer” — hologram_girl, Reddit.com
Yup, mine went from $0.50 to $1.09. The worst part is that my free beverage reward doesn’t even cover the almond milk in the drink, they literally turned it into a separate item now…” — Astronaut-Ordinary, Reddit.com
Mine is $1.00 (Indiana), but I was in Maumee, Ohio this weekend and they charged $1.50! Also, I think it’s dumb that you still get charged for the oat milk when redeeming a free drink coupon.” — Interesting-Alarm238, Reddit.com
I have a dairy intolerance and an so relieved they just put a new Dunkin in our area. I went to redeem a free drink and was charged .50¢ I've been going to Dunkin for years, and am a bit taken a-back by not being inclusive to people who are actually dairy sensitive. We have to pay the extra money just to enjoy the rewards.” — Greenhillsmama, Reddit.com
Yeah I HATE dunkin. Why do people with milk allergies or lactose intolerance have to be charged more? It is so unfair and ridiculous.” — beckkkahhhx3, Reddit.com
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit, if filed and successful, could allow consumers who are allergic to or intolerant of cow’s milk to recover some of the extra money they had to pay to add a milk alternative to their drinks. It could also force Dunkin to drop the surcharges.