The luxury retailer Barneys faces fresh legal troubles two years after paying a hefty fine for employees racially profiling Black customers.
An African-American couple filed a lawsuit Thursday against Barneys in New York City for harassing them when they tried to return high-priced designer jeans and a scarf, the New York Daily News reports.
Conrad Barton paid $1,045.20 for the jeans and $321.19 for the scarf in September, which he tried to return about three weeks later. He showed a clerk his debit card and two receipts. The clerk asked him to wait, and then a man claiming to be a manager appeared.
He demanded to see Barton’s identification, which Barton declined to show, arguing that it was unnecessary. The man, who was actually a loss prevention officer, took the clothing and confiscated Barton’s debit card.
Barton went to his car and returned with Geneva Gordon, who argued with the officer for several minutes. Eventually, the real store manager showed up and completed the return.
“I feel the whole situation was very disheartening and embarrassing and unnecessary,” Gordon told The Daily News.
She added: “They tried to insinuate that the merchandise did not belong to us. That’s what the whole ordeal seemed to be about. It makes no sense.”
The couple hired attorney Peter Gleason, who contacted Barneys’ lawyer. Barneys claimed it was investigating the incident but then cut off all communication with Gleason. That’s when Barton and Gordon decided to file a discrimination lawsuit.
Gleason told the newspaper that it’s unacceptable for the store to charge exorbitant prices and then “look down their noses” at customers when they return items.
Several Black customers have sued Barneys over similar incidents. In 2014, the company paid New York a $525,000 fine to resolve allegations of singling out minorities as suspected shoplifters.
SOURCE: New York Daily News