Court Clears Path for Dunkin' Donuts Pork Sale Suit

July 11, 2007 ( - The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given the go-ahead to a discrimination lawsuit filed by a Muslim Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, who claimed he was denied a contract renewal because he refused to sell pork products.

The suit filed by Palestinian Arab Walid Elkhatib claims that the company discriminated against him based on his race when it made the sale of breakfast sandwiches with bacon, ham or sausage a mandatory part of his franchise agreement. The green light by the appeals court reverses a lower court’s opinion in 2004 that rejected Elkhatib’s discrimination claim.

Elkhatib has had the Chicago-area franchise since 1979, before the company began selling pork, which happened in 1984. Dunkin’ Donuts didn’t object when he made the decision to sell the breakfast sandwiches without pork, even giving him a sign that read “Meat Products Not Available.”

That support changed in 2002, when Dunkin’ Donuts said that he would not be able to relocate or renew his franchise agreement because he was not carrying the entire product line. He then sued Dunkin’ Donuts and its then-parent company Allied Domecq for racial discrimination.

Dunkin’ Donuts contended that “Elkhatib was denied the right to relocate and renew his franchises because of his refusal to carry a full line of Dunkin Donuts products, including pork products, and not due to his race,” according to the opinion.

According to the opinion written by Judge IIana Diamond Rovner, three other franchisees in the area were permitted to continue operating without selling the breakfast sandwiches, for reasons not related to religious beliefs.

“There is significant evidence that the carrying of breakfast sandwiches was not an issue of importance to Dunkin Donuts. It allowed other franchises in the area to refuse to carry any breakfast sandwiches at all, when merely relocating the stores, or in one case merely rearranging the displays, would have allowed them to carry the full line,” Rovner wrote.

For the full opinion go here .