Thanks to everyone who reached out about their experiences with how coffee shops have been charging for non-dairy milk. Attorneys have heard from enough people at this time, and the investigation is now complete.
When and if more information comes to light about a case being filed, we will be sure to update this page.
In the meantime, you can find a list of open investigations here, and you can sign up for our free weekly newsletter on this page.
February 14, 2024 – List of Coffee Shops Under Investigation Revised
At this point, attorneys only need to hear from customers of Caribou Coffee – specifically those who live in California – to assist with their investigation.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out thus far regarding Peet’s Coffee, Biggby Coffee, Dutch Bros, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Caribou Coffee customers who suffer a milk allergy or lactose intolerance and were charged extra for non-dairy milk can continue reading for more information or fill out the form on this page to get in touch.
At A Glance
This Alert Affects:
Customers with lactose intolerance or milk allergies who had to pay extra for non-dairy milk at certain coffee shops.
What’s Going On?
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org believe that some coffee shops may be discriminating against customers with lactose intolerance or milk allergies by adding a surcharge for dairy milk alternatives. They’re now looking into whether class action lawsuits can be filed.
Which Coffee Shops Are Currently Under Investigation?
How Could a Lawsuit Help?
Class action lawsuits could help customers get back some of the money they may have been wrongfully charged—and possibly force the coffee shop companies to stop adding a surcharge for non-dairy milk.
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are investigating whether class action lawsuits can be filed against certain coffee shops that may be charging customers extra for drinks made with non-dairy milk.
Specifically, they’re looking into whether these coffee shop companies are illegally discriminating against customers with lactose intolerance and milk allergies by levying a surcharge that, in some cases, adds an extra $0.80 to the price of a customer’s drink order. The attorneys believe the upcharge may be higher than the cost of the dairy milk alternatives and that the coffee shops could be profiting off customers’ lactose intolerance and milk allergies.
Starbucks and Dunkin have already been hit with discrimination lawsuits over their non-dairy milk surcharge, and attorneys are now looking into whether other coffee shops can also be sued.
Why Might a Non-Dairy Milk Surcharge Constitute Discrimination?
Attorneys believe that people with lactose intolerance and milk allergies are protected under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.
Under the ADA, a disability is defined as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” including eating and major bodily functions, such as digestion and other functions of the gastrointestinal system.
Importantly, the ADA states that places of public accommodation, such as restaurants, stores and hotels, may not impose a surcharge on individuals with disabilities to cover the cost of measures required to provide them with nondiscriminatory treatment.
The lawsuits against Starbucks and Dunkin claim the coffee shop companies violated the ADA and discriminated against customers with lactose intolerance or milk allergies by charging them extra for non-dairy milk alternatives.
The lawsuits also argue that the surcharges are “excessively high” and that the companies are charging customers more than what it costs them to provide non-dairy milk.
Customers with Lactose Intolerance, Milk Allergies Voice Complaints
Coffee drinkers who are lactose intolerant or have a milk allergy have taken to Reddit.com to voice their complaints about coffee shops adding surcharges for non-dairy milk alternatives.
Below is a sampling of these complaints [sic throughout]:
I am allergic to dairy- they make me pay extra for something I have NO control over” — catfishmermaid, Reddit.com
As someone who is lactose intolerant, I've kind of gotten used to paying $.50-$1.50 extra to have an alternative milk in my lattes. Sometimes I'll get an americano just to save the extra dollar since coffee out is already a treat. But recently I went to a coffee shop that charged $1.50 for A SPLASH of oat milk on top of an americano and I'm honestly over the greed.” — tai_chilly, Reddit.com
I’m lactose intolerant I really hate that I got to pay at least 50 cents extra just for my stomach not to hurt.” — TiltedNarwhal, Reddit.com
I am not only vegan I am flat-out allergic to cow's and sheep's milk, so yeah, I just love being financially punished for that...” — ServelanDarrow, Reddit.com
[M]y friend and I have been discussing this exact thing too! … We are also both somewhat lactose-sensitive so we tend to get substitutes in our coffee whenever possible, and we’ve noticed that Peet’s is one of the places that actually does charge for milk substitutions, so we tend not to buy coffee there unless we’re low on options.” — niichigolinmasuda, Reddit.com
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit could help customers with lactose intolerance or milk allergies get back some of the extra money they’ve had to pay for drinks with non-dairy milk alternatives. A lawsuit could also force these coffee shops to drop their surcharge for non-dairy milk.