Date
23 August 2017
Barneys New York chief executive Mark Lee says the company will ensure that customers, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have equal access to its stores. Photo: Bloomberg
Barneys New York chief executive Mark Lee says the company will ensure that customers, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have equal access to its stores. Photo: Bloomberg

Barneys settles over racial profiling of NY shoppers

Barneys New York has agreed to pay US$525,000 to settle allegations that it identified shoplifting and fraud suspects on the basis of race, following accusations made by African-American shoppers at the luxury department store, the Financial Times reported.

The settlement followed a nine-month investigation, the report said. The case started in October last year when two customers were falsely accused by security staff of credit card fraud while shopping at its flagship store in Manhattan. Soon other customers filed similar complaints, saying they had been singled out as suspected shoplifters because of their race and that in-store detectives had harassed them. 

Barneys, aside from agreeing to the settlement, has pledged to ensure “that customers, regardless of their race or ethnicity, have equal access to its stores”, New York attorney-general Eric Schneiderman was quoted as saying.

“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,” Schneiderman said.

Among other measures, the store will hire an “anti-profiling consultant” for two years, update its detention policy and improve the training of in-store security and sales personnel, according to the newspaper.

“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,” Mark Lee, Barneys chief executive, was quoted as saying.

“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.”

In December, Barneys and several other big US retailers agreed to create and publicize a “customer bill of rights” in the wake of the scandal, the report said.

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