Macy’s is facing allegations of racial profiling after multiple New York City residents were detained by police apparently without justification, causing some to assert that patrons are being stopped for “shopping while black.”
14 other minority customers allegedly were singled out because of their race.
Four separate shoppers have now come forward after Trayon Christian, a student from Queens, sued Barneys and the NYPD. Christian claimed he was handcuffed by plainclothes police officers while trying to buy designer items. The lawsuit alleges that staff doubted Christian’s purchases were genuine and called the police, who only released him once he provided identification at the precinct. While Barneys denies that its staff members were involved, the case prompted other customers to come forward. This includes actor Rob Brown, who claims he was the victim of profiling back in June when we was handcuffed and detained while shopping for Prada shoes at Macy’s. Again, Brown was released without charges after showing proof of identification.
Following the allegations, New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, wrote to both Mark Lee, Barneys CEO, and Peter Sachse, Macy’s chief stores officer, requiring that they hand over their policies on stopping and questioning customers. The NYPD Internal Affairs bureau began an investigation into the alleged racial profiling after Art Palmer, a Brooklyn-based fitness trainer, was detained by plain clothes officers after making purchases worth $320 at Macy’s. Palmer alleges he was stopped on his way to the gym by officers who claimed he had disappeared from surveillance footage in the store. Palmer was only let go by the officers after showing receipts for the goods.
A class action lawsuit has now been filed in New York federal court by Brown on behalf of similarly situated people of color who have faced profiling and discrimination.
Palmer, meanwhile, has filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
Brown’s lawsuit is reported to cite “14 other minority customers who sued Macy’s alleging they were singled out for criminal suspicion because of their race” according to New York Daily News. A second lawsuit has also been filed against the NYPD for allegedly targeting ethnic minority shoppers. The lawsuits allege false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligent training and supervision of security personnel, and violations of state and city civil rights laws.
Macy’s has said it does not comment on ongoing litigation, but stated that it does not tolerate any form of discrimination.