Barney's Coughs Up $525K Over Racial Profiling

Settles investigation, will hire anti-profiling consultant
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2014 2:12 PM CDT
Barney's Coughs Up $525K Over Racial Profiling
   (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, file)

Barney’s will shell out $525,000 to settle accusations that it racially profiled black and Hispanic shoppers at its Madison Avenue Store, the New York Times reports. Reached Friday, the agreement concludes a state investigation into complaints against Barney’s; state AG Eric Schneiderman continues a similar probe at Macy’s, the New York Daily News adds. The investigation began when Barney’s accused two black shoppers of credit card fraud—Trayon Christian, 19, who was detained after buying a $349 belt, and Kayla Phillips, 21, who bought a $2,500 purse. The state uncovered other incidents—learning that Barney’s security guards "exclusively identified minority customers as warranting surveillance" to help the store stem a jump in shoplifting and credit card fraud.

Barney’s CEO Mark Lee tells the Times that the terms of the agreement will make the store stronger, insisting the retailer is a "truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination." The state has ordered Barney’s to hire an anti-profiling consultant, improve its recordkeeping, change how it deals with shoplifters, and limit access to surveillance video. Al Sharpton intends to hold Barney’s accountable with his own test shoppers, the AP adds. A year after the incident, Christian tells Pix 11 that the agreement "made me feel much better, like [they're] actually on top of them about something." (More lawsuit stories.)

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