Barneys Sued by Two Black Shoppers Over Alleged Bias

Facebook photo of Trayon Christian.  A black, 19-year-old Queens student got more than he bargained for when he splurged on a $350 designer belt at Barneys -- clerks had him cuffed because they didn't think he could afford the pricey purchase, even though heÌd paid for it, according to a new lawsuit.   ÏHis only crime was being a young black man,Ó his attorney, Michael Palillo, told the Post.   Trayon Christian, a NYC College of Technology freshman from Corona, trekked to the Madison Avenue fashion mecca in April to buy the Salvatore Ferragamo accessory after saving up his paychecks from a part time job at the college. But as soon he exited the luxury department store undercover officers grabbed Christian and asked, "How a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt," according to the suit, filed Tuesday in Manhattan Supreme Court.
(Photo:Facebook via Trayon Christian)

Barneys Sued by Two Black Shoppers Over Alleged Bias

Two young Black shoppers complain that they were the victim of racial profiling at Barneys and the National Action Network says it may picket the store.

PUBLISHED ON : OCTOBER 24, 2013 / 09:34 AM

The controversy surrounding clothing store Barneys has become more heated as a second shopper in New York publicly accused the retail chain of racism and profiling.

Meanwhile, the National Action Network, the civil rights organization headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton, has called for a meeting with the chief executive of Barneys, saying that the organization is planning to picket the store “if the pattern of racial profiling is not immediately rectified.”

Barney’s is being sued by Trayon Christian, a 19-year-old African-American shopper who said he went to the store and purchased a $350 Ferragamo belt. Upon leaving the store, he was stopped by undercover police officers who said that there were concerns by store personnel about the purchase.

In the suit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Christian said he produced the sales receipt as well as the debit card used for the sale. Still, he was told by store personnel that the identification was false and that Christian “could not afford to make such an expensive purchase.”

The suit also said that the store's undercover detectives asked Christian “how a young black man such as himself could afford to purchase such an expensive belt.”

After that incident, a spokeswoman for Barneys said, “No employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale.”

After that suit was filed, another Black shopper, Kayla Phillips, said she had a similar experience at Barneys. Phillips, who is 21, told the New York Post that she purchased a $2,500 Céline handbag. Phillips is suing the New York Police Department for $5 million. A spokeswoman for the city’s Law Department said she would review the claim.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that in 2013, one of the most prominent retailers in the country appears to have a program of racially profiling their customers,” said Kirsten John Foy, President of the Brooklyn chapter of National Action Network, in an interview with

“To be in collaboration with the police department and not have a safeguard against these kinds of measures is irresponsible,” Foy said. “These incidents are not isolated. This is a national chain and it has reached a critical mass and it has to be dealt with aggressively and at the top.”

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(Photo: Facebook via Trayon Christian)

Written by Jonathan P. Hicks


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