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Barneys to pay $525K in NY shopper-profiling probe



By JENNIFER PELTZ

NEW YORK (AP) - Barneys has agreed to pay $525,000 to resolve allegations that minorities were singled out as suspected shoplifters at its flagship store, part of a spate of racial profiling complaints against major retailers last year.

Barneys shoppers and ex-employees complained that detectives followed minority customers around - even after staffers identified them as frequent patrons - and disproportionately investigated their credit-card use, so much so that some salespeople even avoided serving minority shoppers so as to avoid getting calls from store investigators, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in announcing the settlement Monday.

Besides the $525,000 in fines and expenses, Barneys will hire an "anti-profiling consultant" for two years, update its policy and record-keeping on detaining customers suspected of theft, and improve training of security and sales personnel.

"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 said in a release.

Barneys CEO Mark Lee said in a statement that the company was pleased with the settlement, according to the Daily News, which first reported it. A call to Barneys spokespeople Monday wasn't immediately returned.

"Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand," Lee's statement said, adding that the store doesn't tolerate discrimination.

Schneiderman's investigation came after two Barney's shoppers, both of whom are black, said last fall they were detained by police after making expensive purchases at the Madison Avenue luxury emporium.

Civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton met with Lee to discuss the issue, and the furor spurred an online petition asking rapper Jay-Z, who was collaborating with the luxury retailer for a holiday collection, to disassociate from it. He ultimately decided to move forward with the project, which raised money for his charitable foundation, under the condition that he helped lead the store's review of its policies.

Meanwhile, minority shoppers - including actor Rob Brown - also made similar complaints last year against other New York stores including Macy's, which had paid a $600,000 fine and promised changes in 2005 after the then-attorney general made similar claims. Macy's and the "Treme" actor reached a settlement in principle last month in his federal civil rights suit over the matter, both sides said, declining to detail the terms.

In December, Barney's, Macy's and several other major retailers agreed to create and publicize a customer bill of rights.

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golffrdlrs August 11 2014 at 4:23 PM

If 10 percent of the people in the store are a certain color and 80 percent of the thefts are by people of that color then you would just have to be stupid not to watch people of that color more closely. That's just common sense.

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14 replies
sammy_evans4 August 11 2014 at 4:25 PM

First off since 9 out of every 10 shoplifters are Black how can you call it profiling, yes Black people are watched more than White people for that reason. And if I owned a store I wouldn't want Al Sharpton even coming in their, and if he did I'd watch the hell out of him.

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12 replies
MARTY August 11 2014 at 4:41 PM

Oh lord they got that stupid ass Al Sharpton there also. Now he's packed his crap and came here to ST LOUIS to keep his name in the headlines as he does nothing for his race or anyone at all. It's all about him.

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5 replies
Frank Barr August 11 2014 at 4:31 PM

When 90% of your shop lifting is done one group of people its not profiling it common sense

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9 replies
Xamnevets August 11 2014 at 3:16 PM

The shoppers will coming in from Missouri now. Talk about an open invitation. They will turn Barneys into a thrift store within a year.

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5 replies
jayneereich August 11 2014 at 4:58 PM

Well that's just common sense. If you've got a hen house, you watch the coyote more carefully than the rabbit.

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3 replies
bbh907 August 11 2014 at 5:09 PM

So whose pocket is the $525,000 going to end up in? Sharptons?

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5 replies
XXX123 August 11 2014 at 5:22 PM

All the high end stores in NYC have black security ? so who profiling who ?

Flag Reply +19 rate up
1 reply
TR by ML Neal... XXX123 August 11 2014 at 11:40 PM

xxx123.....321xxxx... shut up please

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1 reply
tony TR by ML Neal... August 12 2014 at 12:21 AM

why

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mhammer491 August 11 2014 at 4:27 PM

I wonder why Barneys thought that they had to watch the "Shoppers of Color" more than the white folks? Could it have any thing to do with the fact that the vast majority of these crimes are committed by those same individuals. When you are a member of society, and some of your own are going astray, it is your responsibility to step in and correct that action. Friends of my Mom and Dad would not have hesitated to either correct my brother and I or to at least call my parents if we were seen doing anything out of the ordinary. We never did, being raised in a small close nit community, but we also always felt safe.

Flag Reply +17 rate up
3 replies
change this scre August 11 2014 at 4:36 PM

Just like fishing, you don't fish where there aren't any fish

Flag Reply +14 rate up
1 reply
tony change this scre August 12 2014 at 12:22 AM

Thou be most wise.

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