Macy’s Agrees to Settle Profiling Case

Discussion
Jan 14, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is expected to announce today that his office has reached an out-of-court settlement with Macy’s over charges the department store engaged
in racial profiling of black and Hispanic shoppers as part of its loss prevention strategy.

The settlement, as reported in The Washington Post, will result in Macy’s paying $600,000 to cover the cost of the investigation and other legal fees.

Even though the department store has denied any wrongdoing, it has also agreed to increase employee training, create stricter oversight of its security personnel as well as to
name an individual to monitor compliance with the agreement.

Macy’s operates 29 stores in New York. The state’s attorney general began its investigation of Macy’s after receiving complaints about the way store personnel were treating black
and Hispanic customers.

According to Mr. Spitzer’s office, more than 75 percent of the customers detained for shoplifting in some stores were black or Hispanic. The percentage of those detained was
well above the ratio of black and Hispanics to all shoppers in those stores.

Moderator’s Comment: Considering the increasingly multicultural nature of American society, how can retailers effectively track potential shoplifters
in their stores without resorting to profiling and/or other obviously discriminatory practices?

Even though Macy’s company policy was to handcuff only those deemed to be a threat, some stores in New York were said to handcuff all suspects regardless
of age, size and other factors that might be used to assess the potential for threat.

George Anderson – Moderator

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