NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Barneys has agreed to pay $525,000 to resolve allegations that minorities were singled out as suspected shoplifters at its flagship store, part of a spate of racial profiling complaints against major retailers last year.
As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, the complaints from Barneys shoppers were too similar and too numerous to ignore.
Barneys shoppers and ex-employees complained that detectives followed minority customers around, even after staffers identified them as frequent patrons, and disproportionately investigated their credit card use, so much so that some salespeople even avoided serving minority shoppers so as to avoid getting calls from store investigators, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in announcing the settlement Monday.
“Stopped and accused of shoplifting. Stopped and accused of credit card fraud on the basis of their race,” said Kristen Clard, head of the Civil Rights Bureau for Schneiderman’s office.
Besides the $525,000 in fines and expenses, Barneys will hire an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years, update its policy and record-keeping on detaining customers suspected of theft and improve training of security and sales personnel.
“Profiling and racial discrimination remain a problem in our state, but not one we are willing to accept. This agreement will continue our work to ensure there’s one set of rules for everyone in public accommodations, including customers in New York’s retail establishments,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “This agreement will correct a number of wrongs, both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.”
Barneys CEO Mark Lee said in a statement that the company was pleased with the settlement, according to the Daily News, which first reported it.
“Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand,” Lee’s statement said, adding that the store doesn’t tolerate discrimination.
Schneiderman’s investigation came after two Barney’s shoppers, both of whom are black, said they were detained by police last year after making expensive purchases at the Madison Avenue luxury emporium.
In December, Barney’s, Macy’s and several other major retailers agreed to create and publicize a customer bill of rights.
For more information on the agreement, click here.
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