Barneys New York is paying a $525,000 settlement over accusations of racially profiling customers. The Madison Avenue flagship store became the center of a media circus after the luxury retailer reportedly targeted black and Latino shoppers unfairly.
“This agreement will correct a number of wrongs,” New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the Daily News, “both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.”
Based on Barneys' own data from October 2012 through October 2013, black and Hispanic shoppers were detained “at rates far greater than their percentage of the store’s customer base,” reports the Daily News.
In 2013, a 19-year-old black male, Trayon Christian, filed a lawsuit against Barneys and the New York Police Department after he was accused of fraud for using a debit card to purchase a Ferragamo belt priced at $349. He was arrested and taken into police custody, but the charges were later dropped.
In the weeks after Christian stepped forward, a number of other shoppers of color made similar complaints against the flagship store. Kayla Phillips, 21, said she purchased a $2,500 suede Céline handbag with her debit card and then found herself surrounded by plainclothes officers and similarly accused of credit fraud.
Following numerous accusations of racial profiling, Schneiderman and his civil rights division conducted an investigation, including a nine-month review based on interviews with nearly a dozen complainants, including shoppers and former employees.
Last week, Barneys executives agreed to the settlement: The store will pay $525,000 in fines and legal expenses, hire an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years, update its detention policy, and improve training of security and sales personnel.