Barneys New York will pay $525,000 and implement reforms to remedy allegations that its flagship store targeted minority shoppers for increased surveillance. Credit: Getty Images
Barneys New York will pay $525,000 and implement reforms to remedy allegations that its flagship store targeted minority shoppers for increased surveillance.
The agreement follows a nine-month investigation led by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The probe revealed "a disproportionate number of African-American and Latino customers being detained for alleged shoplifting or credit card fraud."
"Profiling and racial discrimination remain a problem in our state, but not one we are willing to accept," Scheiderman said in a statement.
The investigation was launched after two black shoppers complained about their treatment at Barneys' Madison Avenue store. Trayon Christian, 19, filed a lawsuit against the store after being accused of stealing at $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. Kayla Phillips, 21, said she was detained after purchasing a handbag worth more than $2,000.
Similar complaints about other department stores were also reported. Some retailers posted a Customers' Bill of Rights in their stores.
In the review of customer and employee complaints at Barneys, investigators found minority shoppers were followed by in-store detectives. Some sales associates were also found to avoid serving minorities in order to escape an investigation by loss-prevention employees.
As part of the agreement, Barneys will pay the $525,000 as well as hire an anti-profiling consultant, adopt new loss-prevention and anti-profiling policies and investigate complaints of profiling.
In a statement, Barneys CEO Mark Lee said the company was pleased with the deal.
"We are a truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and believe this agreement will help build on that commitment and further strengthen our organization in the years and decades to come," Lee said.