08/20/2012 01:14 pm ET Updated Aug 20, 2012

Dunkin' Donuts Faces 'Systematic Racial Discrimination' Lawsuit

America runs on Dunkin', and Dunkin' Donuts runs on allegedly discriminatory business decisions based solely on race and gender.

That’s what a lawsuit filed against Dunkin’ Donuts parent company Dunkin’ Brands is claiming, accusing the donut and coffee chain of giving white franchise owners preferable locations in more economically prosperous areas. (Hat tip: the New York Post.)

Plaintiffs include Priti Shetty, an Indian-American Dunkin' Donuts franchise owner who filed a previous suit in May that claimed the company forced her to keep her two stores open 24 hours and denied her a request to open a third location, shortly before the same location was granted to a different franchise owner. Shetty is now joined by Amy and Reggie Pretto, an African-American couple, whose similar claims include that Dunkin’ Brands steered them to open stores in “undesirable locations.”

“This action involves systematic racial discrimination by Dunkin’ Donuts against its own franchisees, particularly those who are Indian women of color and African Americans,” the complaint reads.

Of 7,000 franchises operated by Dunkin' Brands only 50 are owned by African Americans, according to the complaint, while not a single franchise in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York or Rhode Island is operated by “Asian Indian American women of color.”

In an email to The Huffington Post, a Dunkin' Brands representative declined to comment, citing pending litigation. The plaintiffs' lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dunkin’ Donuts has somewhat of a history of lawsuits alleging racial bias. In 2007, first-generation Americans of Indian descent Mahendra and Nita Patel counter-sued Dunkin’ Brands, claiming the company unfairly closes locations owned by minority franchisees, QSR Magazine reports. Such legal disputes apparently remained common for Dunkin’ Brands: The company was involved in 350 lawsuits with owner-operators in 2009 alone, Businessweek reported at the time.



Cities With The Highest Income Inequality