CA: MUSLIM DUNKIN’ DONUTS OWNER CAN SUE OVER PORK, APPEALS COURT SAYS
LOS ANGELES – A discrimination lawsuit filed by a Muslim Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee who was not allowed to renew his contract with the chain because of a refusal to sell pork products can proceed, a U.S. appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The decision reversed an Illinois federal court judge’s 2004 ruling that rejected Walid Elkhatib’s argument that Dunkin’ Donuts discriminated against him based on his race by making the sale of breakfast sandwiches with bacon, ham or sausage a mandatory part of his franchise agreement.
According to court papers, Elkhatib, a Palestinian Arab, has been a Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee since 1979, before the company began selling any pork.
Once breakfast sandwiches were introduced in 1984, Elkhatib’s Chicago-area Dunkin’ Donuts outlets sold them without bacon, ham or sausage for nearly 20 years. The company did not object, even providing him with a sign that said “Meat Products Not Available.”
In 2002, however, Elkhatib was told he would not be able to relocate a store or renew his franchisee agreements due to his failure to carry the full product line.
Elkhatib sued Dunkin’ Donuts and its former parent company, Allied Domecq, later that year, claiming that the chain’s refusal to renew his franchises constituted racial discrimination.