A judge in New York ruled this week that Macy's has to stop detaining shoplifting suspects for hours on end, getting them to sign confessions without due process, and forcing them to pay money in order to be released, the New York Daily News reports. In his ruling, the judge said Macy's was taking advantage of New York statutes and using "this power as a double-edged sword instead of a shield," according to the New York Law Journal. The lawyer for a shopper who sued Macy's claims the department store pulls this tactic on mostly young, minority shoppers. And the judge says Macy's is strong-arming people who don't understand their rights in that situation. Macy's claims it stopped these practices last year.
Samya Moftah, 53, had what her lawyer says is a common experience for people accused of shoplifting at Macy's. The Guardian reports Moftah was buying gifts for her family last summer in New York when she was accused of shoplifting. A Macy's manager and two security officers refused to look at her receipt or Macy's card account. Instead, they took her belongings, patted down her private areas, and locked her in a basement cell for hours. She says she was mocked for being Muslim and ordered to pay $100 and sign a document in order to be released. When she started crying, she claims the manager told her the price to go home had just increased to $500. She refused to pay, but she says they charged her credit card anyway. Then they called the police, who arrested Moftah. All charges against her were finally dismissed in March. Moftah's lawyer is hoping to turn this week's ruling into a national class action suit against Macy's.