Barneys offers apology, denies discrimination allegations

Barneys said its employees did not call police on black customers Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips. Credit: Getty
Barneys said its employees did not call police on black customers Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips.
Credit: Getty

Barneys CEO Mark Lee offered an apology to Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, black customers who were detained by the NYPD after purchasing items at the department store, but stated that Barneys employees were not involved in the incident.

Lee said in a statement: “No one should go through the unacceptable experiences described by Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips in recent media reports, and we offer our deepest sympathies to them both. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we are committed to treating everyone who comes into our stores with respect and dignity.”

Christian and Phillips were both stopped by plainclothes cops who accused them of card fraud. Christian’s lawyer Michael Palillo told Metro last week that a Barneys clerk had called cops on Christian after he purchased a Ferragamo belt. He also added that Barneys never apologized to the 19-year-old student. But Barneys said no one from the store called the police.

“Our preliminary investigation concluded that in both of these instances no one from Barneys New York raised an issue with these purchases, brought them to the attention of internal security or reached out to the authorities,” said Lee.

A source told the Daily News that undercover cops frequent Barneys because of repeated fraud complaints.

Lee told reporters that Barneys is working with Rev. Al Sharpton to raise awareness and sensitivity among its employees. He also apologized to Jay Z — the rapper is releasing a holiday collection with the department store, with 25 percent of proceeds going toward the Shawn Carter Foundation. The rapper was heavily criticized in the media for working with the store, and he responded on his website on Saturday.

He wrote that he will not make any money from the project and has no intentions of canceling his collaboration.

“The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts. Making a decision prematurely to pull out of this project, wouldn’t hurt Barneys or Shawn Carter, but all the people that stand a chance at higher education. … I am against discrimination of any kind, but if I make snap judgements, no matter who it’s towards, aren’t I committing the same sin as someone who profiles?” wrote the rapper.


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