Barneys New York settles racial profiling case

Rapper Jay-Z came under fire for partnership with Barneys New York amid a racial profiling investigation.
By Frances Burns   |   Aug. 11, 2014 at 12:43 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The department store Barneys New York will pay $525,000 to settle state allegations that minority customers were profiled as likely thieves, officials said.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Barneys agreed to the settlement.

Schneiderman's office began an investigation nine months ago into charges that black customers were likely to be followed by store detectives and accused of shoplifting and credit card fraud. The attorney general said in a statement that some sales personnel tried to avoid serving black customers because store detectives harassed them about accepting their credit cards.

"This agreement will correct a number of wrongs, both by fixing past policies and by monitoring the actions of Barneys and its employees to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated," Schneiderman said.

The agreement includes a commitment to provide additional training for staff and take other steps to prevent future problems.

Mike Lee, the Barneys CEO, said in a news release that the store is a "progressive company" with no tolerance for racial discrimination.

"During the entirety of our 90-year history, Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand -- open and welcoming to one and all," he said.

Barneys, founded in 1923 as a store selling fashionable clothing at a discount, now has branches in Chicago and Beverly Hills, Calif., along with smaller stores elsewhere, as well as its flagship Manhattan store.

A number of black shoppers in the past 20 years have said they were detained when they used their debit cards to buy expensive items. Rapper Jay-Z refused to drop a partnership with Barneys under pressure from fans, although he eventually insisted the store put him on a committee to deal with racial profiling.

Topics: Jay-Z
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