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$5m lawsuit accuses Dunkin’ Donuts of discrimination against the lactose intolerant

A Dunkin' Donuts store

A Dunkin' Donuts store

Dunkin’ Donuts is facing a $5m class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination against people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies.

The Independent reports the lawsuit highlights customers may pay up to $2.15 extra to get non-dairy alternatives in their drinks.

It claims plaintiffs were hit with a $0.50 - $2.15 surcharge when they requested alternatives such as soy or almond milk.

The suit lists 10 named plaintiffs and was filed in a district court in Northern California.

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It claims this additional charge amounts to discrimination against people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy milk.

Bogdan Enica, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, told NBC: “Being able to drink milk is a choice for some people, but it’s not for others. Lactose intolerance is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended."

"Lactose intolerance is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act"

Dunkin’ Donuts has filed a waiver acknowledging the lawsuit, according to court documents, and has until the start of March to respond.

The lawsuit claims that Dunkin’ provides modifications or substitutes for people with heart conditions.

These include such as allowing the beverage to be caffeine-free, or for people with diabetes by having a sugar-free option, at no additional charge.

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Enica told The Independent: “Dunkin’s policy of charging all customers a surcharge for non-dairy milks disproportionately affects persons with lactose intolerance.

"The only choice for this group of people is to pay the surcharge."

Chelsea Garland, a plaintiff from San Diego who is lactose intolerant, said she joined the lawsuit because she believed it was unfair that she had to pay more for a beverage that would not make her ill, according to NBC.

She said: “The Dunkin’ surcharge for non-dairy milk directly affected me, and I believed it was wrong."

Enica said more than 50 people who have milk allergies or are lactose intolerant have contacted him seeking to join the legal filing against the restaurant, the outlet said.

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