Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Starbucks Faces Milk Discrimination Lawsuit

Starbucks cafe interior - empty cafeteria behind glass wall

Photo: Nadya So / iStock Editorial / Getty Images

Some California residents have filed a lawsuit against Starbucks, claiming the chain discriminates against lactose-intolerant customers.

The $5 million class action lawsuit represents three women who say the coffee giant violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by charging lactose intolerant coffee lovers more for nondairy milk options.

The lawsuit states Starbucks currently charges 50 to 80 cents more per drink for non-dairy milks such as oat, almond, soy, and coconut. In comparison the chain charges 3 to 32 cents for dairy products like whole milk, half & half, and heavy cream.

The plaintiffs claim that Starbucks has earned over $1 billion in the United States because of its discriminatory surcharge. lactose intolerance which affects 30 to 50 million Americans qualifies as a disability under the ADA. The condition can cause digestive tract inflammation, bowel irregularities, stomach pain and vomiting.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesperson says that the ADA requires businesses to make reasonable modification to company policies to accommodate customers with disabilities.

Starbucks commented that customers can add up to 4 ounces of nondairy milk to beverages at no extra charge, they also noted their reward program allows members to redeem points to substitute for nondairy options.

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