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Barneys New Yorkvia

Barneys settles racial profiling case for $525,000

The New York State Attorney General found that the store detained a ‘disproportionate number’ of black and Latino customers for credit card fraud and shoplifting

You might remember that Barneys New York was hit by accusations of racial profiling last year when several black customers said they had been accosted by security and falsely accused of credit card fraud. Now, the luxury department store has agreed to pay $525,000 in penalties to settle the complaints and says it will implement a new anti-racial profiling policy.

According to complaints from shoppers, store detectives would follow black and Latino shoppers and disproportionately investigate their credit card use, even if employees identified them as frequent visitors to the store. 

After a nine-month investigation, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman agreed, concluding that Barneys records showed a "disproportionate number of African-American and Latino customers being detained for alleged shoplifting or credit card fraud". 

As part of the deal reached betwen the state and Barneys, the store will hire an anti-profiling consultant for two years, introduce anti-profiling training for sales and security staff and fully investigate all customer complaints of profiling. 

"I feel very vindicated today," said customer Kayla Phillips in a statement. "Finally, Barneys appears to have conceded that they unreasonably followed, stopped and detained people who look just like me in their stores." 

Phillips, who is black, purchased a $2,500 Céline bag at Barneys with her debit card last February. According to the 21-year-old shopper, she was then swarmed by undercover cops after exiting the store and accused of credit card fraud. 

The wave of complaints against Barneys prompted  an online petition calling for Jay Z to scrap his fashion collaboration with the department store, although the rapper decided to go ahead with the line under the condition that he would be involved in the store's anti-profiling review.