Last year, the upscale department store Barneys in New York City was hit with several accusations that it engages in racial profiling of its customers. On Friday, following a nine-month-long investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s civil rights decision, Barneys admitted it discriminated against Black and Hispanic shoppers. In addition to a settlement, the store is hiring an anti-racial profiling consultant and adopting an anti-profiling policy.
According to The New York Daily News, during a nine-month-long investigation, researchers met with shoppers and former employees. What they found was disturbing: the “loss prevention unit” at the Barneys on Madison Avenue were disproportionately following Black and Hispanic shoppers at the behest of a new security executive — whose name was not identified — who was hired in 2013.
The loss prevention unit were pressured to detain more customers, even though the Daily News reports that sales clerks were clear that some Black and Hispanic shoppers being followed were actually regular customers. Innocent customers being detained, like 19-year-old Trayon Christian, a Black man who paid for a $349 Ferragamo belt with his debit card and was stopped by two officers who accused him of using a fake card. A 21-year-old Black woman named Kayla Phillips was also detained and falsely accused of credit card fraud after she paid for a $2,500 Celine purse.
A settlement was reached on Friday in which Barneys will pay $525,000 in fines and legal fees. The store will also employ an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years and establish an anti-profiling policy. Nevertheless, both Christian and Phillips still have lawsuits pending against Barneys and the NYPD.
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