Barneys Fined $525K In Racial Profiling Case

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opener2Designed by Emily Kowzan.
After being accused of racially profiling two Black shoppers in its stores last year, Barneys New York has reached a settlement in its suit with the New York State Attorney General's office. Following a nine-month investigation in which the luxury retailer was found to have engaged in racial profiling against Black and Latino shoppers, Barneys has agreed to pay $525,000 in fees and penalties, and to take a series of "remedial actions" to correct the problem, reports WWD.

The investigation comes on the heels of an incident in October 2013, in which Trayon Christian, a Black teenager, was falsely arrested after he purchased a $350 belt on suspicion of using a stolen debit card.

Christian was innocent of any wrongdoing, and in its investigation, the Attorney General's office found that Barneys' records showed an ongoing pattern of profiling racial minorities, with “a disproportionate number of Black and Latino customers being detained for alleged shoplifting or credit card fraud,” WWD reports. Investigators also found that the store used “excessive force and handcuffs” against detainees, and lacked “objective, race-neutral criteria for investigating potential shoplifting and/or credit card fraud.”

So, what are the "remedial actions" that'll set things right? Barneys has agreed to retain an independent anti-profiling consultant, adopt new policies, institute staff training, investigate customer complaints of profiling, and keep better records on false stops and detentions by its loss-prevention staff.

As for the man who brought the suit, Trayon Christian told New York's PIX11 News that he feels "much better" after the decision. He will not receive any of the $525,000 fine decided upon in the federal case, but is proceeding with a civil suit seeking damages against the retailer. With any luck, the decision and Barneys' resultant new policies will make belt-shopping while Black or Latino a less dicey proposition. (WWD)

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