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Barneys New York to pay $525K to settle racial profiling charges


High-end clothing retailer Barneys New York Inc. has agreed to pay $525,000 to settle charges by the New York Attorney General that it engaged in racial profiling.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said in a statement Monday that complaints from customers and former Barneys employees included that door guards identified minority customers exclusively as warranting surveillance; in-store-detectives followed minority customers, even when they had been identified by sales associates as clients and frequent patrons of the store; and the detectives disproportionally asked sales associates to print receipts after minority customers made purchases to confirm the purchases were legitimate, among other complaints.

The statement said the attorney general's office launched a nine-month long investigation after two African-American customers claimed they were falsely accused of credit card fraud while shopping at Barneys' flagship store in New York City.

Under terms of the settlement, in addition to paying $525,000 in costs, fees and penalties, the retailer agreed to adopt new loss-prevention detection policies and a new anti-profiling policy; to develop and conduct anti-profiling training for loss-prevention and sales employees; and to investigate customer profiling complaints, among other measures.

Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement, “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's one set of rules for everyone in public accommodations, including customers in New York's retail establishments. 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.”

Barneys CEO Mark Lee said in a statement, “We are pleased to have come to an agreement with Attorney General Schneiderman. 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.

“We are a truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind, and believe this agreement will help build on that commitment and further strengthen our organization in the years and decades to come.”