In order to settle claims that the upscale department store mistreated black costumers, Barneys New York agreed to pay a $525,000 penalty. After the retailer was reported to have targeted black costumers with unwarranted and intense scrutiny and falsely accusing them of committing fraudulent crimes, the store was forced to pay. The company was found to have racially targeted black and Latino shoppers following a 9-month long investigation prompted by accusations of two black shoppers that the store falsely accused them of credit card fraud.
One shopper, Trayon Christian, a college student from Queens, filed lawsuit after he was arrested in April 2013 for buying a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. Undercover officers allegedly stopped the man, accusing him of using a fake ID and fake credit card and asking “How a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt.” Another woman, Kayla Philips from Brooklyn, was detained after buying a $2,500 Celine bag. She too sued the company for racial profiling.
The investigation revealed that many minority shoppers weren’t served by sales associates due to the hassle that came along when in-store detectives repeatedly asked the associates to reprint receipts after purchases to confirm their legitimacy. Additionally, according to the official press release by the lawyer of the case, A.G. Eric T. Schneiderman, the investigation revealed that there was unwarranted and disproportionate surveillance and following of minority customers throughout the store.
In addition to paying a $525,000, Barneys New York will also hire a consultant to prevent racial profiling in investigation of criminal activity as well as implementing anti-profiling policies. Scheiderman told CBS News: “This agreement will correct a number of wrongs, both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.”
CEO of the luxury department store, Mike Lee released a press release stating: “During the entirety of our 90-year history, Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand – open and welcoming to one and all.”