Macy's Agrees to $650,000 Settlement in Racial Profiling Investigation

Macy's has reached an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to pay $650,000 to settle an investigation into accusations of racial profiling. Schneiderman's investigation was launched last February after several complaints were made by minority customers against the company's flagship store in Manhattan's Herald Square.

"It is absolutely unacceptable—and it's illegal—for anyone in New York to be treated like a criminal simply because of the color of their skin," Schneiderman said in a statement. According to the Associated Press, minority customers had accused the store of detaining them without having stolen anything:

The complaints included customers detained after traveling between floors by escalator with unconcealed merchandise. Other customers speaking limited English and suspected of shoplifting or credit card fraud were not permitted to make phone calls, denied access to an interpreter and required to sign trespass notices they couldn't understand.

The agreement cites Macy's data from October 2012 through October 2013 showing employees apprehended and detained 1,947 individuals at the Herald Square store. Meanwhile, about 6,000 people were detained at stores statewide.

Last week, Barneys New York reached its own settlement deal—to the tune of $525,000—with the attorney general into racial profiling allegations made against its Madison Avenue store. Like Barneys, the terms of Macy's settlement require the company to retrain employees and, according to the Wall Street Journal, "designate an independent expert on anti-discrimination laws and racial-profiling prevention and employ an internal full-time security monitor who will monitor Macy's loss prevention policies and practices." http://gawker.com/barneys-will-p...

Last month, Actor Robert Brown, who appeared on HBO's Treme, settled a racial profiling lawsuit with Macy's after he was accused of credit card fraud at the Herald Square store. From CBS New York:

Brown said that he was buying his mother a $1,300 watch as a graduation present in June when he was surrounded by undercover cops. He said he was held at the store, handcuffed and searched before being released.

"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 in our organization," Macy's said in a statement. "Moving forward, our company will be initiating a series of measures including enhanced training and education for our loss prevention and sales associates. We also will be adopting an expanded role for our security monitor to help ensure that we have the right policies and procedures in place, and that we are constantly reviewing our compliance with them."

[Image via Getty]