Barneys New York Accused of Racial Profiling Twice in One Week

In bizarrely similar incidents, two young, African-American shoppers came forward this week about their experiences with fraud accusation at the Barneys flagship store.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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In bizarrely similar incidents, two young, African-American shoppers came forward this week about their experiences with fraud accusation at the Barneys flagship store.
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It's a bad news week for Barneys.

On Tuesday, Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old African-American male, came forward with the story that he was falsely accused of using a fake debit card after he purchased a $349 Ferragamo belt at the Barneys flagship on Madison Avenue this past April. According to the New York Daily News, Christian was stopped by two undercover cops--who received a tip from Barneys that his card was fake--just after he left the store, where he was immediately detained and questioned. Christian ended up returning the belt for a full refund, and is now suing the retailer for discrimination.

In a bizarrely similar story, 21-year-old Kayla Phillips told NYDN today that she, too, was accused of fraud after purchasing a $2,500 Céline bag at the Madison Avenue store in February. According to Phillips, she bought the bag with her temporary debit card, and moments after exiting the store, was surrounded by undercover cops inside a nearby subway station.

Both Christian and Phillips were reportedly hounded with questions concerning their finances, specifically where they worked and how they got the money to pay for such expensive items. Barneys is asserting that the store's staffers did not call the police and were not involved in either confrontation, but that the retailer does have a task force of law enforcement officials on site to protect it from fraud. Racial profiling is not uncommon in New York City, but the speed at which both parties were accosted after leaving Barneys is what's leading them to believe that the salespeople tipped off police.

In regards to Christian's lawsuit, Barneys posted the following statement on its Facebook page:

Barneys New York typically does not comment on pending litigation. In this instance, we feel compelled to note that after carefully reviewing the incident of last April, it is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale. Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination and we stand by our long history in support of all human rights.

We have reached out to Barneys for comment on the Phillips incident and will update when we hear back.