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

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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, first reported by the Daily News.

“Barneys New York has prided itself on providing an unparalleled customer experience to every person that comes into contact with our brand — open and welcoming to one and all,” Lee’s statement said, adding that the store doesn’t tolerate discrimination.

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