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Barneys New York agrees to $525,000 settlement in bias case

Barneys has agreed to pay $525,000 to resolve allegations that minorities were singled out as suspected shoplifters at its flagship store in Manhattan.

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 T. Schneiderman said in announcing the settlement yesterday.

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.

Barneys CEO Mark Lee said in a statement that the company was pleased with the settlement.

"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.

Schneiderman's investigation came after Barney's shoppers Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, both of whom are black, said last fall they were detained by police in separate incidents after making expensive purchases at the Madison Avenue luxury emporium. Both have sued the store and city.

-- AP

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