Macy's faces another discrimination lawsuit

A number of shoppers say they have experienced racial profiling at the department store chain.

By Benzinga Dec 26, 2013 1:44PM

Credit: © Tony Dejak/AP
Caption: A Macy's department storeBy Jim Probasco

In a discrimination lawsuit filed Friday, an African-American shopper said Macy's (M) security personnel stopped him after he bought a $2,400 Louis Vuitton bag and an alarm went off as he tried to exit the store.

Club promoter Halim Sharif said he was detained, and his bag searched, even as a half-dozen white customers left the store without being detained. Sharif said those customers also set off alarms at the store's 34th Street exit.

Sharif said he was the only person stopped and that he had cellphone audio and video to prove his claim.

The incident happened at Macy's historic flagship store on April 19, 2013.

Sharif told The New York Daily News, "It was as clear as black and white. There was no gray area. I saw people exit before me and after me -- and none of them looked like me. They lacked pigmentation."

The 37-year-old promoter, who indicated he was suing Macy's for unspecified damages, said he decided to speak up after reading accounts of four alleged instances of racial profiling at Macy's and another retailer, privately owned Barney's New York.

Brooklyn resident Kayla Phillips, who alleged she was racially profiled at Barney's in February, also filed a discrimination lawsuit Friday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, according to The Daily News.

Macy's, through a representative, said the company was looking into Sharif's allegation, but would have no comment due to the fact litigation was pending.

According to the representative, "Macy's has a zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind. If Macy's policies have not been upheld, we will take swift and immediate action."

The two stores named in the lawsuits said New York Police Department officers were the culprits in earlier incidents, targeting black shoppers, including Phillips, Trayon Christian, Rob Brown, and Art Palmer.

The department said its officers were merely acting on information provided by store employees.

Meanwhile, Macy's was among several retailers that signed a customer 'bill of rights' earlier in December. Civil rights leaders, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, met with retailer representatives to draft the document, which is to be posted on participating department store websites.

In addition to Macy's, other signatories include Barneys New York, Macy's-owned Bloomingdale's, and Hudson's Bay Company subsidiaries Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

Read more from Benzinga

Tags: BenzingaM
Dec 26, 2013 2:59PM
OMG.  Another racism story.  When did it become that the only person you can mad at is a white male.  I am a white male and if I get mad at anybody that is not white...I am a racist.  This PC crap the liberals are cramming down our throats will be the downfall of America.  I don't care what color you are.  If you are an idiot then you are an idiot.  I am going to say this once and for are not African-American.  If you are black and you are born are American.  You are not from Africa, your parents are not from Africa, your parents parents are not from Africa.  My ancestry is from I Scottish  If you do not want labels then start by not putting them on yourself.
Dec 26, 2013 3:12PM

I am an ill-american. ill because I am sick to death of an endless stream of "I am a victim, I am going to sue news"

Frankly I believe very little of it, much like the rest of the "news"

Dec 26, 2013 3:36PM

Why is it ALWAYS black against white!

Blacks are more racist than any and are always pulling the race card.

I too am so sick of this "African -American" crap. You are American. Plain and simple.

If Africa means so much go back and help the country become a better place.

All our ancestors came from somewhere else with the exception of the Native American.

Dec 26, 2013 3:44PM

Last week at a nationwide department store, the alarm went off as I was exiting the store.  A clerk asked me to step back to the counter, which I did,  and I let them go through my bag.  They found an item that had been paid for that the clerk forgot to take the security device off before bagging it for me. Not once did I claim harassment nor did I whip out my phone to record everything.  Does not matter what sex or color I am, I did nothing wrong and knew it would be handled professionally and properly if I didn't make a scene. I left with an apology from the clerk that bagged my items and exited this time without the alarm sounding. Life goes on  & no lawsuit needed.

With the increased prices to cover shoplifting thefts, I will do what I can to accommodate the store and its staff to make sure theft is not happening.  If someone is being stereotyped because of their sex, religion or nationality...then I agree that is wrong.  Don't act like a thief or an a** hole and maybe you won't be treated like one...IMO.

Dec 26, 2013 3:38PM
Why didn't he show the security guard his receipt? It would have been over at that point.
Dec 26, 2013 3:37PM
Does racism/profiling occur?  Probably to some extent.  This guy claims cell phone camera and video on this incident - I smell a rat on this one.  Who records "ramdomly leaving a store"?  Looks like something planned out in advance to grab some cash from Macys.
Dec 26, 2013 3:14PM
Happened in April and is just now coming out. Must have been a slow year for club promoters and he's decided to make up the difference with a law suit.
Dec 26, 2013 3:43PM
The alarm went off, that is not racist.  And when security is searching one customer, there may not always be enough extra security to stop others.  This makes me sick, people just wanting to make a quick buck and ruin a businesses name.  If you don't like America, go back to Africa and see how well you are treated and see if you like it there.  And I am Black!
Dec 26, 2013 3:44PM
It looks like he went with intent. He "happen" to notice that other "white customers" were beeping and nobody stopped them but they stopped him. I really doubt that if I were walking out of a store and a Louis Vitton bag worth 2,400.00 beeped I would not be stopped too. I am sure they had options too on how to act.  I am Hispanic and white and all I would need is to how the receipt.   And how many "whites" went out of the store with items beeping anyway?Give me a break. This feels like a scam.
Dec 26, 2013 3:35PM
If you're race does most of the stealing expect to be racially profiled. Makes sense to me, or any other rational person I would think.
Dec 26, 2013 3:50PM
One of the stores in Western Maryland, a white person was tackled by an employee of large chain department store. I have been stopped in Walmart and had to show them my receipt, Watch a woman (white) in Walmart in Winchester, VA. stopped and had her  prescription medicines that she paid for ,had gone through her bags also, like this crybaby above.  She was understanding and went on her way.  The race card only infuriates people.
Dec 26, 2013 3:38PM
Another  whining  **** that is out to get the white man that's treating him wrong.I am sick of all these "poor pitiful me ****s.
Dec 26, 2013 3:39PM
Dec 26, 2013 3:35PM
Dec 26, 2013 3:51PM

Was Sharif born in Africa. If not, then he is not an African-American. They searched the bag, ok!  Maybe the European-Whites did not have bags out of a store bag. Hell, this was back in April for God's sake.


Come on, this guy is a racist himself. I for one am so sick of the gay/lesbian and racism articles published on MSN.


The real crime of Macy's is the high finance and late charges assessed credit card holders.

Dec 26, 2013 3:46PM
Cell phone with audio and video.  Was it a Nobama phone?  Sick of hearing about racism.  If anything, this country has gone backwards towards reverse discrimination and Nobama is the one leading the charge.  Why is it that whites can get along with any culture except blacks?  Why is it that blacks cannot get along with any other culture?
Dec 26, 2013 3:37PM
Another day in diversity wonderland.  When will America wake up and realize that people prefer their own kind?  Assimilation is a fool's dream.  There will never be harmony.
Just close down Macys and all these other establishments  If they are not now discriminating against blacks I am sure they will be in the future. Just end civilization as we know it in this country and turn the whole country into another Detroit.
Dec 26, 2013 3:31PM
Best not to make asumptions until all the facts are released.
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