Barneys Customer Accosted By Undercover Cops Is Awarded $45K Settlement

Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg/ Getty Images.
Barneys New York’s racial profiling lawsuit from April 2013 involving African-American college student Trayon Christian has come to a close, at last: The city of New York has settled all claims associated with the suit, and will pay Christian $45,000.

In the suit, Christian claimed his civil rights had been violated when he was handcuffed by two undercover New York Police Department cops a block from the posh department store’s Upper East Side flagship, after he purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt using money from his work-study job. He was accused of credit-card fraud, and then detained by the police, where he was accosted with questions like, “How could you afford a belt like this? Where did you get this money from?” Christian told The New York Daily News back in 2013.

"Settling was in the best interest of the city," Nick Paolucci, a spokesperson for NYC’s law department, told Reuters.

Shortly after Christian’s case was publicized, another African-American customer of the department store, Kayla Phillips, claimed she had been racially profiled there back in February 2013. Phillips says she was stopped by cops in a nearby subway station after purchasing a $2,500 Céline bag. The 21-year-old nursing student was questioned about how she was able to pay for the designer purchase (she decided to splurge on the big-ticket item using her tax return — not that it matters or detracts at all from Phillips’ racial profiling allegations).

Following these incidents, Barneys agreed to pay a $525,000 fine in 2014 in a federal case. The department store also vowed to hire an anti-profiling consultant as a result of the case. It also instated new anti-profiling and detention policies regarding loss prevention (a.k.a., how the store protects against stolen merch and how it handles accusations of theft). Christian did not receive any portion of that fine, and instead proceeded with the civil suit that was settled yesterday.

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