BOSTON — Lord & Taylor has agreed to a settlement with the state of Massachusetts to resolve charges by the state's Attorney General's Office that the company's theft prevention actions led to the racial profiling of black and Hispanic customers.
According to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, her office's investigation found that Lord & Taylor stores throughout Massachusetts created "racial and ethic bias" through its loss prevention practices that included a "disproportionate" amount of surveillance and shoplifting allegations among black and Hispanic people shopping at the stores.
“Following our investigation, Lord & Taylor has agreed to take meaningful steps to improve its policies and procedures to prevent racial profiling of customers—we hope others will do the same,” said Healey in a statement. “Far too often shoppers are unfairly viewed as suspicious or not belonging, simply because of their race or ethnicity. This takes a toll on individuals and broader communities, even when it is the result of unconscious bias. It is our collective responsibility to address it.”
“We can never become numb to the reality and impact of racism," added NAACP Boston Branch President Tanisha Sullivan. "This investigation reminds us that racial discrimination is still a serious problem in our society and we need to remain vigilant in rooting it out.”
Lord & Taylor has agreed to the hiring of a retail industry consultant to review the company's shoplifting prevention program and will develop a "customer bill of rights" to inform customers how they can file a complaint regarding bias, Healey's office said.