Barneys settles racial profiling case

New York -- Barneys New York has settled its profiling and racial discrimination case, agreeing to pay $525,000 and implement measures to address potential future profiling chances.

The retailer’s Madison Avenue store has been under investigation by the New York State Attorney General’s office for the past nine months.

“Profiling and racial discrimination remain a problem in our state, but not one we are willing to accept,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “This agreement will continue our work to ensure there’s one set of rules for everyone in public accommodations, including customers in New York’s retail establishments.”

The investigation began after two African American shoppers sued the store and the city, following a shopping trip to Barneys and a subsequent stop by police. In April 2013, Trayon Christian, then an 18-year-old college student, bought a $350 Ferragamo belt with his debit card and left the store. Two undercover police officers requested to see receipts and allegedly told Christian “that he could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.”

After Christian’s encounter became public, Kayla Phillips said she, too, had been profiled under similar circumstances.

The attorney general found that Barneys maintained inadequate records of stops made by their loss-prevention employees, but despite these lapses, existing records showed a disproportionate number of African American and Latino customers were detained for alleged shoplifting or credit card fraud.

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