Barneys New York has reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed last year that accused the company of targeting minority customers. The settlement follows a nine-month investigation led by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, which found a “disproportionate number of African-American and Latino customers being detained for alleged shoplifting or credit card fraud.”
Per the company’s agreement with the state, Barneys will also be required to retrain their employees and hire an “independent anti-profiling consultant.” The state’s investigation stem from complaints made by two black Barneys customers who made purchases at the company’s Madison Avenue store.
Trayon Christian, 19, was allegedly followed by police from the store last year after purchasing a $350 Salvatore Ferragamo belt. According to the lawsuit he filed against New York City and Barneys, the officers allegedly asked Christian “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt” and accused him of using a fake debit card and ID.
And Kayla Philips, 21, alleges that police officers surrounded her at a subway station after she bought a $2,500 Céline handbag.
“There were three men and a woman,” Philips told the New York Daily News last year. “Two of them attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of me, blocking the turnstile.”
Barneys and the NYPD have been pointing fingers at each other for the length of the investigation.
According to internal documents obtained by the Associated Press last year, Barneys claims that the police acted on their own, saying that they did not “request, require nor initiate the actions of the New York Police Department.”
John McCarthy, NYPD’s chief spokesman, fired back, telling the Associated Press, “In both instances, NYPD officers were conducting unrelated investigations and took action after conferring with Barneys employees while in their security room.”
Schneiderman’s investigation into Barneys’ practices is part of a larger inquiry into similar racial profiling allegations leveled against New York shopping giants.
“We are a truly progressive company that has absolutely no tolerance for discrimination of any kind,” Barneys said in a statement released today.