Barney’s NYC.

The attorney general of New York, Eric Schneiderman, has announced a settlement between the state and luxury clothing chain Barneys over the latter’s use of racial profiling in its store’s loss-prevention efforts. The settlement follows a nine-month investigation, and requires Barneys to pay $525,000 in costs, fees, and penalties.

According to a press release announcing the settlement, the New York Attorney General’s Office found that Barneys’ in-store detectives disproportionately followed minority customers, even when sales associates identified those customers as regular clients of the store. It also found that door guards exclusively identified minority customers as meriting surveillance.

According to the New York Daily News, the investigation was launched after two African-Americans, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, came forward alleging that the luxury goods store had falsely accused them of credit card fraud after making legitimate purchases of expensive goods in the first half of 2013. As part of the settlement, Barneys agreed to retain an independent anti-profiling consultant for two years, who will advise the chain on how to avoid profiling in its loss-prevention (jargon for anti-theft) efforts.

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

According to the New York Times, Barneys CEO Mark Lee said, regarding the settlement, “We are a truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”


Roberto Alejandro

Special to the AFRO