Look: Black NJ Couple Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Barneys for Refusing to Accept Their Return

NEW YORK - JUNE 22: A building is reflected in the Barneys New York store window June 22, 2007 in New York City. Jones Apparel Group Inc. plans to sell Barneys New York to the Dubai investment firm Istithmar for $825 million.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Look: Black NJ Couple Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Barneys for Refusing to Accept Their Return

A regular procedure became a nightmare for Conrad Barton and Geneva Gordon.

Published December 9, 2016

The process of returning items to a store is one that most of us know very well. However, something that should be a routine task turned into a humiliating experience for one New Jersey couple who attempted to return two items to Barneys. Now the couple has filed a lawsuit against the high-end retail store. 

On October 4, Conrad Barton, 30, and Geneva Gordon, 25, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, travelled to Chelsea, a New York City neighborhood, to return their merchandise to Barneys.

Barton wanted to return a pair of jeans that he paid $1,045 for and a $321 scarf. He purchased both items on Sept. 11, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

When he went into the store to return the items, Gordon waited in the car, the suit said. Barton approached a store clerk with his items, the receipt, and debit card he used to make the original purchase.

He was then told to wait by the clerk and 15 minutes later a man who claimed to be a store manager came out and told Barton that he would need ID to make the return, the suit said. Barton then argued with the manager, who turned out to be a loss prevention officer, that he didn’t need ID, said court documents.

As the situation escalated, the officer refused to give back the clothes or Barton’s debit card, court papers said.

Barton, who was extremely frustrated, then went back to his car, informed Gordon of the situation, and the two went back inside. Another argument occurred between the couple and the loss prevention officer, who prompted an actual store manager to intervene and process the return, the papers said.

Afterward, Barton and Gordon felt humiliated by the experience.

“You’re being stereotyped when you are just following a regular store procedure,” Barton told New York Daily News. “It shouldn’t have went down that route.”

“I feel the whole situation was very disheartening and embarrassing and unnecessary,” Gordon added.

Barton and Gordon have since hired an attorney, who contacted Barneys lawyer Grace Fu, who initially assured him they were investigating the situation. However, Fu eventually stopped communicating with them, the suit said. Barton and Gordon decided to file a lawsuit against the company.

A representative for Barneys declined to respond to the New York Daily News’ request for comment.

This lawsuit joins a series of cases involving allegations that Black New Yorkers have made against Barneys. In the past, several minority customers alleged that they were unfairly targeted by Barneys' employees. In 2014, Barneys was forced to pay $525,000 when the state attorney general’s office fined the store for racial profiling.

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)


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