NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Barneys New York department store, accused of racially profiling shoppers, said Thursday it has retained a civil rights expert to lead a review of its policies and procedures and has reached out to community leaders to start a dialogue.
Two black shoppers said they were questioned by police after they made expensive purchases at the Manhattan store. One has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Barneys, the city and its police department; the other has filed a complaint with the city’s police watchdog agency.
The president of the Brooklyn chapter of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Kirsten John Foy, and the CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, spoke Thursday and planned to meet next week, Sharpton’s spokeswoman Rachel Nordlinger said. The civil rights group said earlier it would picket the store if the pattern of racial profiling alleged by the shoppers doesn’t stop.
Lee offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies.”
“We are conducting a thorough review of our practices and procedures as they relate to these matters to ensure that they reflect our continued commitment to fairness and equality,” he said in a statement.
The store has retained San Francisco attorney Michael Yaki, who serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, to lead the review.
Foy said before meeting with Lee that that National Action Network plans other action against the NYPD for what it calls “continued use of the discriminatory pattern and practice against people of color.”
“This is unacceptable in the year 2013 that a person cannot go into a store and make a purchase without being stopped merely because they are black,” Foy told 1010 WINS.