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Monday, July 22, 2024

Starbucks Faces Lawsuit Over Extra Charges for Non-Dairy Milk

Starbucks Class Action Lawsuit

See, there are actually a lot of lactose-intolerant people in the world, and if you don’t know what that means, well, these days a lot of people have trouble digesting lactose, which is the sugar in milk and dairy goods. This is precisely what we call lactose intolerance. This could cause unpleasant signs like stomach pain, gas, and throwing up, you know? For these very reasons, a lot of people who can’t handle lactose choose non-dairy milk like almond, soy, coconut, and oat milk. Starbucks does have these non-dairy choices, but they cost extra, FOR NOW. You see, these extra charges are precisely what has led to this new Starbucks Class Action Lawsuit. Let’s get to the details of this case, shall we?


Why This Big Starbucks Class Action Lawsuit?

Actually, this happened in March 2024, when three customers from California and one from Colorado Springs had enough and sued Starbucks as a group. People who are lactose intolerant actually went on to say that Starbucks’ extra charge for non-dairy milk is unfair and breaks the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and California rights laws. This is pretty understandable if you think about it for a sec. The extra charge, which is between 50¢ and 80¢ per drink, seems more like a punishment for their health problems.


What the Law Says

If you didn’t know, well, individuals with disabilities are guaranteed equal treatment and appropriate accommodations under the ADA law. According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), lactose intolerance is a handicap because it can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues. A simple accommodation that Starbucks should give, according to the plaintiffs, is not charging extra for non-dairy milk. And yes, they also reference the anti-discrimination provisions of California’s civil rights statute.


There are some nations where Starbucks does not charge more for non-dairy milk, such as Japan and the UK, which is brought up in the complaint as well. This makes one wonder why the United States doesn’t follow the same, right?


Starbucks’ Defense and Legal Opinions

Starbucks says that its policy is fair because the price of non-dairy milk is similar to other changes, such as extra espresso shots or syrup. A small amount of non-dairy milk can be added for free to some drinks, you can also read that.


Though, there are some lawyers who are on the side of the ones who made the claims. A disability law expert at Syracuse University named Arlene Kanter thinks the plaintiffs have a strong case. She says that someone shouldn’t have to pay extra for a shelter if they have a disability and need one.


What Could Happen?

In the event that the case is successful, Starbucks may need to pay at least $5 million in fines. More importantly, it could cause Starbucks to change its pricing practices, which would make non-dairy milk easier for everyone to get and cheaper for those who can’t handle lactose.


For customers, this case shows how important it is to have fair prices and easy access. If Starbucks changes its policy, other coffee shops and businesses might follow suit and give non-dairy options for free. This could make things easier for disabled people and keep them from having to pay too much for extras.

Parul is an experienced blogger, author and lawyer who also works as an SEO content writer, copywriter and social media enthusiast. She creates compelling legal content that engages readers and improves website visibility. Linkedin

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