NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Macy’s has agreed to pay $650,000 to settle allegations of racial profiling at its flagship store in Herald Square.
Under the agreement signed Tuesday with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the company will adopt new policies on police access to its security camera monitors and against profiling, further train employees, investigate customer complaints, keep better records of detentions and report for three years on its compliance.
Schneiderman said the settlement should help ensure customers are treated equally regardless of race or ethnicity at the retail giant’s 42 department stores statewide.
“It is absolutely unacceptable — and it’s illegal — for anyone in New York to be treated like a criminal simply because of the color of their skin,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman said the company has revamped its training programs, entered into a set of model procedures and agreed to pay for a monitor, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
The attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau said it opened an investigation into Macy’s in February 2013 when it received several complaints from minority customers.
Since then, the office recorded complaints from 18 African-American, Latino and other ethnic minority customers who claimed they’d been apprehended and detained at Macy’s stores between 2007 and 2013, despite not having stolen or attempted to steal any merchandise.
The complaints included customers detained after traveling between floors by escalator with unconcealed merchandise. Other customers speaking limited English and suspected of shoplifting or credit card fraud were not permitted to make phone calls, denied access to an interpreter and required to sign trespass notices they couldn’t understand.
Hollywood actor Robert Brown, who stars in the HBO series “Treme,” was at the center of the highest profile case.
Last June, Brown said he was buying his mother a $1,300 watch when he was surrounded by undercover cops. He said he was held at the store, handcuffed and searched before being released.
Days later, several more people came forward with a similar story.
The agreement cites Macy’s data from October 2012 through October 2013 showing employees apprehended and detained 1,947 individuals at the Herald Square store. Meanwhile, about 6,000 people were detained at stores statewide.
The agreement requires publicly posting Macy’s “customer’s bill of rights” in English and Spanish in all its New York stores and on the Macy’s Inc. website.
“To be clear, our company’s policies strictly prohibit any form of discrimination or racial profiling and any occurrence of such behavior will not be tolerated in our organization,” Macy’s said in a statement. “Moving forward, our company will be initiating a series of measures including enhanced training and education for our loss prevention and sales associates. We also will be adopting an expanded role for our security monitor to help ensure that we have the right policies and procedures in place, and that we are constantly reviewing our compliance with them.”
For more information about the agreement with Macy’s, click here.
The attorney general’s Civil Rights Bureau reached a similar agreement with the retailer Barneys earlier this month.
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