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Starbucks was sued: what customers accuse the coffee chain of

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar28,2024

Starbucks sued: what customers accuse the coffee chain of

Starbucks allegedly discriminates against customers with lactose intolerance/June Andrei George

A group of California residents filed a lawsuit against Starbucks. They claim the popular coffee chain discriminated against lactose-intolerant customers.

$5 million class action lawsuit filed by Maria Bolliger, Dawn Miller and Shunda Smith, three women who claim Starbucks violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by charging lactose-intolerant coffee drinkers like them more for coffee with non-dairy milk, reports New York Times.

In expensive cities like San Francisco and New York, alternatives to cow's milk, such as oat, almond, coconut and soy milk, can be added to a customer's bill up to 90 cents.

The lawsuit alleges that Starbucks adds a premium to these products, even though the milk costs are comparable to lactose-free options.

This results in Bolliger, Miller and Smith paying between 50 and 80 cents more for their orders to replace 2% of the milk with the alternative.

At the time of the lawsuit, prices for dairy products such as whole milk and heavy cream, ranged from 3 to 32 cents per fluid ounce.

By comparison, soy, coconut, almond and oat milks often sell for between 4 and 7 cents per fluid ounce.

Starbucks sued: what customers accuse the coffee chain of

< br> Customers of the establishment filed a class action lawsuit against Starbucks/Photo by Gema Saputera

The lawsuit states: “According to available information, Starbucks has earned over $1 billion in the United States as a result of discriminatory and illegal collection of an allowance during the legal process”.

The ADA defines lactose intolerance as a disability that can cause inflammation of the digestive tract, intestinal upset, stomach pain, and vomiting. Between 30 and 50 million Americans suffer from it.

Keith Gibson, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said Starbucks has decided to offer oat milk and almond milk, but does not offer alternatives to customers over the counter.

It is not an option for these people because they cannot drink regular milk. Charging them an additional fee is discrimination,
he said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

Gibson previously represented plaintiffs in a similar lawsuit against Starbucks in Florida.

While he did not say whether a settlement had been reached, he said the new lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fresno, California, has nationwide implications.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Adam Cyr (Adam Cyr) told the publication that the ADA requires companies to make reasonable changes to a company's standard policies to accommodate customers with disabilities.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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