New York AG reaches agreement with Barneys to address alleged discrimination

Bryan Cohen Aug. 12, 2014, 1:04pm

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NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an agreement on Monday with Barneys New York to ensure consumers have equal access to the retailer's stores, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Schneiderman's office looked into Barneys New York's practices after two African-American customers alleged they were falsely accused of credit card fraud when they shopped at the company's flagship store. Schneiderman's office reviewed multiple complaints from consumers who alleged that door guards exclusively identified minority customers as warranting surveillance, in-store detectives disproportionately asked sales associates to reprint receipts after minority customers made purchases and some sales associates avoided serving minority customers so they would not be contacted by loss prevention employees seeking to look into minority customer credit card use.

“Profiling and racial discrimination remain a problem in our state, but not one we are willing to accept," Schneiderman said. "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.”

Schneiderman's Civil Rights Bureau alleged Barneys failed to develop comprehensive written policies regarding racial profiling and lacked race-neutral criteria for looking into potential shoplifting and credit card fraud.

Under the terms of the agreement, Barneys will pay $525,000 in costs, fees and penalties; retain an independent anti-profiling consultant; establish new recordkeeping requirements; and develop and conduct anti-profile training for loss prevention and sales employees.

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