Many people across this state have recently read about the accusations that iconic department store Barneys New York has engaged in discriminatory practices. And it’s not their hiring, advertising or design practices that have come under fire. It is the accusation that the store unfairly targets minority customers and accuses them of credit card fraud and other unlawful behaviors.
People who have never been wrongly accused of criminal behavior may not understand just how distressing these claims are. But imagine that you are going about your day, shopping and looking to pick up a special item. What starts as a regular day can quickly change into a retail and legal nightmare if store employees or undercover officers point a finger at you and accuse you of stealing or fraudulently obtaining merchandise, all because of the color of your skin.
But reports suggest that Barneys New York has engaged in this discriminatory practice in recent months. Claims against the store argue that in multiple instances, minority shoppers have been approached, questioned and detained by workers or police officers and accused of fraud. Minority shoppers at the high-end department store are allegedly being targeted because of the discriminatory belief that they cannot afford luxury items and therefore must be purchasing it fraudulently.
This practice is not only unfair to those accused of criminal activity, it can end up completely disrupting their lives. Being jailed and charged for a crime that a person did not commit can have a significant impact on that person’s reputation and future. And when the entire event stems from discrimination, the allegations can be that much more upsetting.
If and when a person is accused of criminal misconduct such as fraud, he or she has the right to speak with an attorney to challenge any charges. Not only can this help people protect their own criminal records and reputations, but it can also help to uncover any discriminatory or unfair practices that may be contributing to numerous other false accusations.
Source: Washington Post, “Shopping While Black,” Michelle Singletary, Oct. 31, 2013