NEW YORK—Macy’s agreed to pay a $650,000 fine to the state of New York, as part of a settlement over alleged racial profiling at its store in Herald Square.
The state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, in October launched an investigation of Macy’s practice of detaining and questioning customers, after receiving complaints of discrimination from black and Hispanic customers.
The attorney general’s office said it found the rate at which the Macy’s store detained minorities for alleged shoplifting was higher than that for whites.
Macy’s has denied wrongdoing, citing company policies that “prohibit any form of racial profiling,” but agreed to adopt a more stringent anti-discrimination policy.
“Moving forward, our company will be initiating a series of measures including enhanced training and education for our loss prevention and sales associates,” Macy’s said in a statement.
Those measures include anti-profiling training for employees, investigating customer complaints about unfair detentions, and hiring an anti-discrimination expert who will report to the attorney general for the next three years.
Macy’s agreement follows the luxury retail store Barneys’ $525,000 settlement with the state last week, which included similar reforms to prevent racial profiling.
“This agreement will help ensure that no one is unfairly singled out as a suspected criminal when they shop in New York,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The customer lawsuits against Macy’s have been “settled in principle,” while those against Barneys are still pending, according to the NY Daily News.
Macy’s had previously paid $600,000 in 2005 to settle an investigation of racial profiling at its store statewide by then New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer.
In the 2005 settlement, Macy’s had also agreed to investigate complaints and provide more anti-discrimination training for employees.
As part of the current agreement, Macy’s will post a Customers’ Bill of Rights in all of its New York stores as well as on its website.
Macy’s security system works to combat shoplifting, which cost the retail giant $100 million in the Eastern United States in 2002 alone, according to the New York Times.
The company claims that—at its Herald Square store in 2002—95 percent of detained customers admitted that they shoplifted, and 56 percent were turned over to the police, the New York Times reported.
A Macy’s executive declined to reveal shoplifting-related figures in recent years.