Barneys New York is the latest retailer hit with allegations of racial discrimination. Yesterday (December 8), an Elizabeth, New Jersey-based couple filed a lawsuit against the luxury department store chain.
New York Daily News reports that Geneva Gordan and Conrad Barton filed the suit with the Brooklyn Supreme Court after an October 4 visit to a Barneys store in New York City resulted in an exchange with a loss prevention worker that Gordon characterized as “disheartening and embarrassing and unnecessary.”
Per the Daily News, the lawsuit alleges that when Barton attempted to return a $1,045 pair of jeans and $321 scarf, accompanied by his receipts and the debit card he used to make the purchases, he was told to wait. Fifteen minutes later, a loss prevention officer masquerading as a manager demanded identification. When Barton made it clear that the store’s return policy did not require ID, the officer confiscated the clothing and his debit card.
After Gordon argued with the officer, an actual manager came over and handled the transaction. When the couple’s attorney contacted the company’s legal rep, they were initially assured that the situation was being investigated, but then communication dropped off, prompting them to sue. The couple is Black.
“Barneys has the temerity to look customers straight in the face and charge $1,200 for so called ‘designer jeans,’ and then look down their noses at the same patrons who then decide to return the item,” their lawyer Peter Gleason told the Daily News. “One would think that Barneys would have instituted change after being fined over $500,000 by the New York State Attorney General for this very type of discriminatory behavior.”
Gleason referenced a suit that was settled in 2014 when the company paid $525,000 for racial profiling. As part of that settlement, the company was supposed to employ consultants to eliminate racial profiling.