A Muslim and Arab American owner of a Chicago area Dunkin’ Donuts closed his franchise after he refused to sell pork products because of his religious and personal beliefs.
Walid Elkhatib decided to invest in Dunkin’ Donuts in 1979. A big draw for him was that the chain did not sell pork, which easily complied with his religious beliefs of not wanting to eat or handle pork in any capacity. About five years later, Dunkin’ Donuts introduced breakfast sandwiches, many of which contained bacon. However, the chain never forced Elkhatib to sell the pork items on the menu.
That is, until recently. The corporation told Elkhatib in 2002, after he had been a part of the Dunkin’ Donuts family for more than two decades that they would not renew their franchise agreement unless he sold the pork products in his Westchester location.
Elkhatib sued Dunkin Donuts, citing racial and ancestry discrimination. Though the court initially denied his claim, an appellate court approval allowed it to go to trial.
Elkhatib claimed Dunkin’ Donuts did not consistently apply their policy of requiring franchisees to sell the company’s full line of products. Elkhatib’s lawyer, Robert Habib, discovered a Chicago Dunkin’ Donuts that was, and still is, allowed to exclude the pork products because many of the location’s customers followed Jewish dietary restrictions.
Dunkin’ Donuts won the lawsuit in March after years of litigation because they said ElKhatib continued to use trademark materials. However, Habib insists that his client will survive the loss. Elkhatib is ending his association with Dunkin’ Donuts but he still owns the equipment and has a lease on the property, according to his lawyer. He plans to continue and run a restaurant in the location.