Posted on August 21, 2014

Macy’s to Pay $650,000 to Resolve Bias Inquiry

Alan Feuer, New York Times, August 20, 2014

After an 18-month investigation, Macy’s has agreed to pay a $650,000 fine and hire an independent monitor to address complaints that minority shoppers faced heightened surveillance and, in some cases, wrongful detention at its flagship store in Midtown Manhattan.

The investigation, conducted by the state attorney general’s office, reviewed the internal “loss prevention” procedures employed by Macy’s at its Herald Square store as well as allegations that black and Hispanic shoppers were unfairly targeted by security officials. The inquiry found that Macy’s “detained African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities for allegedly shoplifting at significantly higher rates relative to whites,” a settlement agreement to be released on Wednesday said.

“This agreement will help ensure that no one is unfairly singled out as a suspected criminal when they shop in New York,” the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement set to accompany the release of the settlement document, which covers all 42 Macy’s stores in New York State.

The deal with Macy’s comes a week after Mr. Schneiderman’s office reached a similar one with Barneys New York, which agreed to pay $525,000 and institute a host of reforms aimed at addressing allegations of racial profiling at its Madison Avenue store.

The Macy’s investigation included a review of complaints since 2007 from 18 minority shoppers who claimed they had been improperly detained at the Herald Square store. {snip}


As part of the latest inquiry, investigators reviewed claims that some customers who spoke limited English had been denied an interpreter while being questioned about shoplifting accusations. The investigators also spoke with at least two Macy’s sales representatives who, the settlement agreement stated, said that store guards followed black and Hispanic shoppers “at rates far greater than that of white customers.”