National Jeweler Network

Public Policy & Issues

Another dept. store settles racial profiling case

By Brecken Branstrator

August 21, 2014

New York--The latest development in the New York attorney general’s investigations into alleged cases of racial profiling has resulted in Macy’s Inc. agreeing to pay $650,000 to settle complaints against it.

The Civil Rights Bureau of the attorney general’s office launched the investigation into the retailer’s practices in February 2013, after it had received about two dozen complaints from minority customers who alleged they had been apprehended and detained at Macy’s flagship store in New York despite not having stolen or attempted to steal any merchandise.

According to a statement released Wednesday by the office of New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, complaints included allegations that minority customers wrongly were stopped and detained by loss prevention employees at the store, and that customers with limited proficiency in English suspected of shoplifting or credit card fraud were not allowed to make calls, denied interpreters or required to sign trespass notices even though they couldn’t understand the notices in English.

The attorney general’s office also said that data produced from the store showed that it did investigate and detail minorities for allegedly shoplifting at significantly higher rates than non-minorities.

The statement also noted that in 2005, Macy’s entered into a consent decree with the attorney general’s office to resolve allegations that its asset protection policies and practices violated a number of anti-discrimination laws.

Terms of the agreement ended in 2008, and the office said that despite improvements in some areas, the investigation found that Macy’s continued to stop and detain minority shoppers at a higher percentage than non-minority shoppers.

The result of the investigation into Macy’s actions has been the conclusion that the company has “failed to take appropriate steps to adequately and quickly address profiling issues at its New York stores,” and that it hasn’t been providing loss prevention employees with adequate guidance or training.

Under terms of the settlement, Macy’s will pay $650,000 in costs, fees and penalties to the state. It also will designate an independent expert on anti-discrimination laws and racial profiling prevention to report to the office for three years and hire an internal security monitor to report to an executive outside of the loss prevention department.

Additionally, the retailer will post its Customers’ Bill of Rights in English and Spanish in a prominent location in each store, adopt new policies about anti-profiling and loss prevention detention and provide training for employees on such topics. 

 “To be clear, our company’s policies strictly prohibit any form of discrimination or racial profiling and any occurrence of such behavior will not be tolerated by our organization,” Macy’s said in a statement released Wednesday. The retailer added that it is committed to “fulfilling the ideals of diversity, inclusion and the respect that our company aspires to achieve.”

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The settlement with Macy’s builds on the recent developments around the New York attorney general’s investigations into alleged cases of racial profiling and discrimination by retailers statewide. 

Barneys also recently settled claims of racial profiling by agreeing to pay $525,000 as well as to retain an anti-profiling consultant, establish new recordkeeping requirements and adopt new loss prevention policies and procedures.