New York -- The attorney general of the state of New York is investigating Macy's and Barneys following complaints from black customers that they were stopped by police after making expensive luxury purchases, according to the New York Daily News. The local New York media has dubbed the practice “shop-and-frisk.”
The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters on Monday to both retailers seeking information on their policies for stopping, detaining and questioning customers based on race, the report said, and gave them Friday to comply.
Barneys CEO Mark Lee said that Barneys employees had no part in the two incidents that set off the controversy, Reuters reported.
"We believe that no Barneys employees were involved in those incidents," Lee said after a meeting in Harlem with civil rights leader Al Sharpton and members of his National Action Network, according to the report. "No one from Barneys brought them to the attention of our internal security and no one from Barneys reached out to external authorities."
Barneys and the New York City Police Department were named in a lawsuit filed by a Queens man detained by police in April for two hours after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt. He was later released without being charged. Another Barneys shopper said she was surrounded by four undercover police officers in February after leaving with a $2,500 Celine handbag she had purchased.
Two Macy's shoppers have made similar complaints.
In 2005, Macy's paid $600,000 to settle similar allegations that many of the chain's New York stores had targeted blacks and Latinos for particular scrutiny of theft, according to the New York Attorney General's office.