It’s a story we’ve heard a million times before.
Someone walks onto the sales floor of a luxury department store, salespeople start to whisper, and the profiling begins.
And now, in the wake of racist allegations made against Barneys in NYC, a former employee is speaking out about the racial profiling culture of the store and the discrimination she witnessed while there.
According to the Huffington Post:
The former employee, who spoke on condition she not be named for fear of jeopardizing her career in the industry, said she heard sales staff and security repeatedly rip on black shoppers: “Their card is probably not going to go through,” they’d say. “I don’t know why they come in here and want to try stuff on that they know they’re not going to buy.”
“If a black person comes in with a sweatshirt or sneakers, some of the white sales associates would be on the floor saying: ‘Why are they even here? They’re probably going to scam,'” said the former associate, who is black and worked at the store in 2012 and 2013. “They would say this stuff in front of me. Sometimes I would just walk away, and sometimes I would say, ‘You never know.'”
Her statements come just weeks after a black engineering student was profiled after buying an expensive belt and a young black woman was stopped by police and forced to show her receipt after buying an expensive Celine bag.
But the profiling doesn’t stop at the salespeople, according to the Huffington Post’s Barneys insider.
…They’ve seen profiling by salespeople and security guards. One current veteran employee at the Madison Avenue store — who asked for anonymity because workers were given “strict warning” they could lose their jobs for speaking to the media — alleged that store security keeps a close eye on black shoppers who don’t look famous.
“If you’re black and come in with an entourage, you won’t be followed because they’ll be like ‘Oh, that’s somebody famous,’” the employee said. “But if you come in by yourself or with one other person, then you’re going to be followed.”
The former employee recalled one of the Barneys loss-prevention specialists, who are tasked with reducing store theft, reminiscing about the time he was working at Saks Fifth Avenue and stopped the rapper Lil’ Kim.
“He said, ‘Sometimes you think certain rappers have money, but just because they have money doesn’t mean they don’t shoplift,'” the former employee alleged the specialist said.
Barneys has effectively shifted the blame off of their employees and on to the NYPD officers who stopped the shoppers. A Barneys spokesperson maintains that they do take the allegations seriously, however.
“We take this issue very seriously, and if any employees were to deviate from our policies we would terminate those individuals immediately,” the company’s chief executive, Mark Lee, said.
If that’s true it looks like a lot of employees should be out of a job.
SOURCE: Huffington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty