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Macy’s Inc. Subpoenaed Over Racial Profiling Claims

Following recent racial profiling allegations, the New York City Commission on Human Rights issued subpoenas to Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s last week requesting that the companies provide documents of loss prevention policies and procedures after both stores were unresponsive to the Commission’s initial requests.

NYC Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling said in a statement, “It is disappointing that they have not fully cooperated in the Commission’s investigation into recent allegations of racial profiling at some of the city’s larger retail stores and instead sought to dictate the terms and scope of our investigation.”

The subpoenaed retailers have until Dec. 10 to submit the requested information.

Issues of racial profiling, or “shop-and-frisk” as some are calling it, have made headlines in recent months with allegations against Macy’s for wrongfully arresting former NYPD officer Jenny Mendez for allegedly shoplifting at the retailer’s Herald Square flagship with her mother on Black Friday last year. Store employees then allegedly lied saying Mendez confessed to the crime. Mendez denied confessing to a crime she didn’t commit and filed a lawsuit with the Bronx Civil Supreme Court on Nov. 15.

Two shoppers at Barney’s made similar claims against the luxury retailer and the resulting media storm spurred rapper Shawn “Jay Z” Carter–who was set to launch his collaborative holiday collection at the store–to participate in an internal advisory council on racial profiling with Barney’s after angered consumers started a petition on calling for Carter to cut ties with the retailer and forego the holiday promotion.

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Last month the commission sent letters to 17 retailers including Macy’s, Barneys, Bloomingdale’s, Century 21, Loehmann’s, Sephora, Target, Victoria’s Secret, and many others, requesting information on loss prevention policies,  procedures for approaching and detaining individuals suspected of theft,  records regarding past thefts, and the presence of NYPD officers at the retail locations.

Some companies have since cooperated, handing over the required information, but Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s, both of which are operated by Macy’s, Inc., missed the November deadline initially set by the commission, resulting in the subpoena.

A Macy’s spokeswoman told Women’s Wear Daily, “It is Macy’s desire to cooperate with the New York City Human Rights Commission. We have attempted to and are continuing to work toward an arrangement that satisfies the commission’s legitimate investigatory needs and protects our proprietary business interests. We are hopeful that we can reach a mutually satisfactory arrangement.”