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post #1 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:31 PM Thread Starter
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No Pork = No Donuts?? Your Thoughts?

By Ameet Sachdev | Tribune staff reporter
August 1, 2007
Every day for nearly 30 years, Walid Elkhatib has sold doughnuts. Glazed, chocolate frosted, Bavarian Kreme and other varieties. As a Dunkin' Donuts franchisee, he expanded the menu to include breakfast sandwiches, such as egg and cheese bagels.

But he drew the line at serving sandwiches with sausage, ham or bacon because his Muslim faith forbids him from eating or handling pork -- a departure from company policy that led Dunkin' Donuts in 2002 to threaten it would take away his two Chicago-area franchises.

So for five years Elkhatib has been waging a legal battle against the Boston chain claiming racial bias, not religious discrimination. The federal court of appeals in Chicago last month reinstated the case, blurring the lines between religion and race.

"What is life without dignity and your beliefs?" said Elkhatib, a 57-year-old Arab who was born in Jerusalem and came to Chicago in 1971.

Elkhatib's case highlights the ongoing challenges businesses face in dealing with increasingly diverse workplaces. For instance, Islamic dietary restrictions, dress and grooming requirements and the five-time-daily prayer vigil have become sources of friction.

Muslims have filed thousands of complaints of workplace discrimination in recent years, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In one high-profile case in 1999 the federal courts found that the Newark Police Department's no-beard policy discriminated against two Muslim police officers. Companies have become more accommodating of the religious practices of Islamic workers, setting aside quiet rooms for prayer and allowing women to wear the hijab, or loose-fitting clothing that includes a head covering.

For years Dunkin' Donuts made exceptions for Elkhatib, even providing him signs for his restaurants that read "No meat products available," he asserts in court documents.

The company introduced breakfast sandwiches in 1984, five years after Elkhatib bought his first franchise, which he later sold.

"That's why I bought a Dunkin' Donuts, because I never had to handle pork or alcohol [also forbidden under Islamic dietary laws]," said Elkhatib, who drove a bus before going into business for himself.

In 1995 he opened his second franchise in west suburban Berkeley, and three years later followed up with one in Westchester. His total investment in those two restaurants was $580,000, court documents said.

His franchises consistently received positive reviews for cleanliness, hospitality, marketing and product quality. His supervisors raised no objections to his refusal to sell pork sandwiches, he said in court filings.

But Dunkin' Donuts reversed course in 2002, Elkhatib said. That year, according to court papers, he had discussions with the corporate real estate group about the possibility of relocating his store in Westchester to a busier intersection. But the company later rejected the plan when Elkhatib refused to sell breakfast sandwiches with pork at the new location.

In August a company lawyer followed up with a letter telling Elkhatib that his two franchises would not be candidates for renewal when those agreements expired. Dunkin' Donuts said in court papers that the decision was made because company policy "requires franchisees to sell the complete line of approved Dunkin' Donut products."

A company spokesman declined to comment for this story because the case is pending.

Elkhatib turned to a friend, Robert Habib, a Chicago lawyer who regularly stopped by his store for coffee and conversation. Habib said he quickly realized he did not have a typical discrimination case on his hands.

Not an employee

Because Elkhatib is not an employee of Dunkin' Donuts, Habib could not sue under federal laws banning religious bias in employment. Instead, Habib alleged discrimination based on race, claiming that because Elkhatib is Arab he is forbidden from handling pork products because of his race's traditions and religious practices. The lawyer invoked a Reconstruction-era law, which was enacted to protect freed slaves after the Civil War. It provides that "all persons ... shall have the same right ... to make and enforce contracts, as is enjoyed by white citizens."

"If Walid had been an employee this would have been a lot simpler case," Habib said.

African-Americans franchisees of other retail chains have sued under the same law when they were denied opportunities to expand their business in predominantly white areas, said Carmen Caruso, a franchise lawyer at Schwartz Cooper in Chicago.

"The law puts the onus on the franchisor to get into real reasons why you made distinctions between franchisees," Caruso said.

Dunkin' Donuts, in a request to dismiss the case before trial, argued that it did not discriminate by refusing to accommodate Elkhatib's "racial, or religious, preferences."

"A Dunkin' Donuts franchisee can no more refuse to sell breakfast sandwiches based on the Muslim faith, or Arab ancestry, than a McDonald's franchisee can refuse to sell hamburgers because they are Hindu or Indian," the company said in court papers.

U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle found no evidence of racial discrimination by Dunkin' Donuts. He also rejected the Elkhatib's attempt to frame his case on a racial claim rather than a religious one, finding that "dietary restrictions Elkhatib points to are associated with religion rather than race." Claims of religious discrimination are not recognized under the civil rights law Elkhatib invoked.

However, the 7th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals allowed the complaint to proceed as a racial discrimination case and did not address Norgle's determination that the suit was a religious rather than racial claim. The company did not ask the 7th Circuit to uphold Norgle's ruling on that basis.

Different reasons

The three-judge panel found troubling evidence that the company did not consistently apply its rules on franchise holders. At least three other Chicago-area Dunkin' Donuts restaurants also do not serve breakfast sandwiches with pork.

The reasons are different from Elkhatib's -- lease restrictions in one case, space limitations in another and customer demand for kosher food in the third.

The company cut those franchise holders, who are not of Arab descent, a break, even allowing one to renew his lease after the decision was made to deny renewal of Elkhatib's franchise.

"There is significant evidence that the carrying of breakfast sandwiches generally, and the carrying of meat products specifically, was not a factor that was important to Dunkin' Donuts in the franchise decisions," the panel wrote in its July 10 opinion.

But the appellate decision could be a hollow victory for Elkhatib. His franchise in Berkeley was not renewed in 2005 and his Westchester agreement is set to expire in April.

Even though he is up against a deadline Elkhatib vowed to keep fighting. "There's no other way," he said.

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post #2 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:40 PM
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Those are franchises that he owns so it should be no business of DD as to what items he chooses not to sell from the complete menu as long as there were signs outside that could clearly be seen by customers that alerted them to this fact. After all, he would be the one loosing out on the business from the customers that would want to purchase meat products.

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post #3 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:43 PM
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Good. If you buy a franchise, you should have to sell what the corporation tells you to sell. That's the point of a franchise. I see the companys reason for allowing those other three locations to not sell pork because of building lease restrictions and a demand for kosher food, but if this guy doesn't want to sell it because of his religiuos beliefs, well I would cut his ass. It's not his decision. Just my 0.02

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post #4 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by .:K2:. View Post
Those are franchises that he owns so it should be no business of DD as to what items he chooses not to sell from the complete menu as long as there were signs outside that could clearly be seen by customers that alerted them to this fact. After all, he would be the one loosing out on the business from the customers that would want to purchase meat products.
however it's also dunkin donuts descretion to who they want to give and not give franchees to. if DD doesn't want there product represented that way, and it was a company guide line that they are required to represent the entire line then DD should have the option to buy out the franchise or force the owner to sell it for what its worth.

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post #5 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:45 PM
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Good. If you buy a franchise, you should have to sell what the corporation tells you to sell. That's the point of a franchise. I see the companys reason for allowing those other three locations to not sell pork because of building lease restrictions and a demand for kosher food, but if this guy doesn't want to sell it because of his religiuos beliefs, well I would cut his ass. It's not his decision. Just my 0.02
here's the deal, if DD wants to sell everything then they should do it for everybody, those places that have food restrictions based on buildings, GO TO ANOTHER BUILDING.

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post #6 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:45 PM
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Good. If you buy a franchise, you should have to sell what the corporation tells you to sell. That's the point of a franchise. I see the companys reason for allowing those other three locations to not sell pork because of building lease restrictions and a demand for kosher food, but if this guy doesn't want to sell it because of his religiuos beliefs, well I would cut his ass. It's not his decision. Just my 0.02
The Kosher allowance was already based on religion, so the company (DD) already opened up that can of worms. Because of that alone, he has a shot of winning to keep his franchise.

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post #7 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:46 PM
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a demand for kosher food, but if this guy doesn't want to sell it because of his religiuos beliefs,
Aren't kosher food requirements the ones of the Jewish faith?

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post #8 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:47 PM
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Those are franchises that he owns so it should be no business of DD as to what items he chooses not to sell from the complete menu as long as there were signs outside that could clearly be seen by customers that alerted them to this fact. After all, he would be the one loosing out on the business from the customers that would want to purchase meat products.
unfortuantely, that is not how most franchises operate. You may own that location, but you don't own the company. You have to do what coporate tells you to do. You're basically "renting" the buisness, you don't really per se own a dunkin doughnuts. And it's deifintely DD buisness, it's their name a reputation on the line.

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post #9 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:48 PM
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Aren't kosher food requirements the ones of the Jewish faith?
But that's a CUSTOMER demand. Not some owner refusing to sell because of HIS beliefs.

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post #10 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:49 PM
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here's the deal, if DD wants to sell everything then they should do it for everybody, those places that have food restrictions based on buildings, GO TO ANOTHER BUILDING.
I definitely agree with that too. They should be moving these places to allow for the sale of all items.

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post #11 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:53 PM
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But that's a CUSTOMER demand. Not some owner refusing to sell because of HIS beliefs.
So what if a portion of his customers are Muslim and as a result of DD demands, now they can't purchase food there because the regular food is prepared in the same location as the meet/pork foods? Would those not be customer demands as well.

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DD already set company precedence to make exceptions based on religion. It doesn't matter who's it was.

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post #13 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:58 PM
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DD already set company precedence to make exceptions based on religion. It doesn't matter who's it was.
Exactly

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post #14 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:58 PM
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So what if a portion of his customers are Muslim and as a result of DD demands, now they can't purchase food there because the regular food is prepared in the same location as the meet/pork foods? Would those not be customer demands as well.
not that it matters, but living in westchester, that isn't one of his problems.

america is the home of the free. meaning we are free to do what we want. This in my opinion means you are free to practice what ever religion you want (providing it doesn't break other laws) however, that practicing that religion doesn't give you the right to comprimise a contract you signed with a company.

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post #15 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 02:59 PM
 
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I'm so sick of people and their hurt feelings and being offended FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, if you don't want to serve a certain food, get the fuck out of the restuarant business. I'm just sick of this PC bull shit...here are the rules, deal with it. If it offends you, LEAVE

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post #16 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:01 PM
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not that it matters, but living in westchester, that isn't one of his problems.

america is the home of the free. meaning we are free to do what we want. This in my opinion means you are free to practice what ever religion you want (providing it doesn't break other laws) however, that practicing that religion doesn't give you the right to comprimise a contract you signed with a company.
There is clearly a religious discrimination here if DD allows one owner not to sell pork due to Kosher requirements (Jewish) but demands that another does regardless of his/his customer's Muslim food requirements.

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There is clearly a religious discrimination here if DD allows one owner not to sell pork due to Kosher requirements (Jewish) but demands that another does regardless of his/his customer's Muslim food requirements.
It's common knowledge that the 2 groups love each other...

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post #18 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:07 PM
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I'm so sick of people and their hurt feelings and being offended FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, if you don't want to serve a certain food, get the fuck out of the restuarant business. I'm just sick of this PC bull shit...here are the rules, deal with it. If it offends you, LEAVE
If this was a case of a Muslim customer trying to force DD to not sell pork anymore due to his own religious beliefs than I would agree with you but this guy bought 2 of his own DD stores and does not want to sell something. Isn't it his choice not too make the profit associated with selling those items as long as he advertises the fact that he does not serve meat products?

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post #19 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:10 PM
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as long as he puts up the sign that he doesnt sell it the meat products then by all means. he bought the franchises, if he wants to potentially run them into the ground by what he sells and doesnt sell thats his problem. unless he has to give a quarter of his profits to DD and by not providing a full menu they are missing out on money. im not sure. what are the rules with franchises you buy it and its yours? i thought maybe the company got a lil slice of the pie.

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post #20 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:12 PM
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as long as he puts up the sign that he doesnt sell it the meat products then by all means. he bought the franchises, if he wants to potentially run them into the ground by what he sells and doesnt sell thats his problem. unless he has to give a quarter of his profits to DD and by not providing a full menu they are missing out on money. im not sure. what are the rules with franchises you buy it and its yours? i thought maybe the company got a lil slice of the pie.
Usualy you hand over ~4% of your sales to corporate (varies by chain)

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post #21 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:18 PM
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Usualy you hand over ~4% of your sales to corporate (varies by chain)
well shit that changes everything. hes possibly taking profits from them by not selling what they tell him to sell.

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post #22 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:19 PM
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well shit that changes everything. hes possibly taking profits from them by not selling what they tell him to sell.
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post #23 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:22 PM
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well shit that changes everything. hes possibly taking profits from them by not selling what they tell him to sell.
So aren't the Kosher DD stores also causing loss of profit?

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post #24 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:24 PM
 
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sorry k2 there's no argument here. He's a not really a business owner, more like a manager. When you own a franchise you still have to follow their rules (as stupid as they may be). So if he wants to dictate these types of things he should sell the franchise and open up his own business
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post #25 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:28 PM
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sorry k2 there's no argument here. He's a not really a business owner, more like a manager. When you own a franchise you still have to follow their rules (as stupid as they may be). So if he wants to dictate these types of things he should sell the franchise and open up his own business
Had the company not already made a religious exception, you would be absolutely right. Because they have in the past (even if just once) then he has a basis for his suit and will probably win it if his lawyer argues it properly.

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post #26 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:32 PM
 
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Had the company not already made a religious exception, you would be absolutely right. Because they have in the past (even if just once) then he has a basis for his suit and will probably win it if his lawyer argues it properly.
companies ALWAYS have excuses as to why a decision was made not saying it's right or fair but that's the way it is

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post #27 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by meech View Post
sorry k2 there's no argument here. He's a not really a business owner, more like a manager. When you own a franchise you still have to follow their rules (as stupid as they may be). So if he wants to dictate these types of things he should sell the franchise and open up his own business
Don't mean to be a party pooper here and point out the obvious:
How come DD is letting the Kosher store squeeze by the corporate rules, shouldn't this be a all or nothing?

Edit: Arch pointed it out while I was on a call

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post #28 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:33 PM
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the difference with the kosher issue is that it is satisfying customer demand, its like an added bonus. this owner doesnt want to quit selling meat because his customers ask him not to, he is doing it because of his own beliefs. with the kosher youre ADDING to the possibilities and customer base you tend to. but he is taking a product AWAY from the market. Thats just stupid business. if you wanna rule this case out on "but you let them do it!" then go ahead and call it that. but personally i dont think religion has any business in business. he is denying a product that there is a demand for based on his own beliefs. he should be offering it, no one is forcing him or anybody else with his beliefs to eat em, just sell the product from the franchise that YOU bought and agreed to sell THEIR food. wanna sell your own food? go open up your own restaurant. welcome to corporate business

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Last edited by Village Idiot; 08-01-2007 at 03:37 PM.
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post #29 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by burntash View Post
the difference with the kosher issue is that it is satisfying customer demand, its like an added bonus. this owner doesnt want to quit selling meat because his customers ask him not to, he is doing it because of his own beliefs. if you wanna rule this case out on "but you let them do it!" then go ahead and call it that. but personally i dont think religion has any business in business. he is denying a product that there is a demand for based on his own beliefs. he should be offering it, no one is forcing him or anybody else with his beliefs to eat em, just sell the product from the franchise that YOU bought and agreed to sell THEIR food. wanna sell your own food? go open up your own restaurant. welcome to corporate business
Corporations can not just pretend they didn't make exceptions in the past. That's a double-edged sword. Sometimes it's a good thing, sometimes it's a bad thing.

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post #30 of 114 (permalink) Old 08-01-2007, 03:40 PM
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It is a major BS that someone can buy a franchise and then demand what he does with it.
He could have opted for Habibs donuts but no, he went with a proven success recepy which was built on the product and service that DD offers, not to mention the marketing and commercials for which DD pays good money.
In addition to the fact that a customer who sees that advertisement expects that product when they visit the DD shops. Would not that constitute false advertising?.
At the best he should be offered to sell the franchise for fair market value or convert to Habibs kosher donuts. And not be allowed to use religion or race in getting his way. Too much of this going on. Using and abusing law and a proven franchise on which a lot of employees and investors depend and customers who pay good money for.
This BS with abuse of law and honest people on false grounds of race and religion has to stop, as a newbie to this country I have to say that you got to show some backbone and stop this overly liberal "politically correct" bullshit.
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