New York City

Another national chain, Macy’s, hit with racial discrimination lawsuit

October 31, 2013 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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A black couple from Brooklyn is suing Macy’s for $2 million for alleged racial profiling at its department store in the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island.

Richard Campbell and Samantha Bynoe say they were leaving the store after buying items with a gift card when two males, who turned out to be Macy’s employees, stopped them outside.

Court documents show that the two claim they were “wrongfully” detained while their belongings were searched before they were allowed to leave.

This suit, filed Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, comes on the heels of highly profiled case against Barneys New York. The two Barneys customers, Trayon Christian and Kayla Phillips, said this week police detained them after making expensive purchases. Christian sued Barneys, saying he was accused of fraud after using his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt in April. Philips filed a notice of claim saying she would sue after detectives outside the store stopped her when she bought a $2,500 Celine handbag in February.

Barneys said it had retained a civil rights expert to help review its procedures. The CEO of Barneys, Mark Lee, offered his “sincere regret and deepest apologies.” Barneys asserts that it the New York City Police Department is to blame for the allegations of “shop-and-frisk,” a tabloid play on the controversial and challenged NYPD policy to stop and frisk individuals suspected to have committed or in the process of committing a crime. John McCarthy, an NYPD spokesperson, said that NYPD officers acted on information that they received from Barneys’ employees.

 “In both instances, NYPD officers were conducting unrelated investigations and took action based on information brought to their attention by Barneys employees while in the security room,” McCarthy said in a statement.

The accusations of racial profiling promoted New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to send letters to the executives at both Barneys New York and Macy’s East, reminding them that racial discrimination in places of public accommodation including stores is prohibited under state and local civil rights law. The letters dated Monday asked executives at both stores to call the Attorney General’s Office to schedule meetings.

Macy’s Manhattan flagship store was also hit with a lawsuit by an actor who claimed he was stopped because of his race while shopping in the Herald Square store. Rob Brown, a black actor, said in his lawsuit that police detained him for almost an hour when employees contacted authorities about possible credit card fraud after he purchased a $1,350 gold Movado watch.

Macy’s, like Barneys, asserts that it was the NYPD and not Macy’s employees who were responsible for any act of profiling or detention. Refusing to comment further on either lawsuit, Macy’s did note that it does “not tolerate discrimination of any kind” within its organization.

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