Barneys Doesn’t Let People Return Clothes While Black, Lawsuit Alleges

“You’re being stereotyped when you are just following a regular store procedure,” said Conrad Barton. “It shouldn’t have went down that route.”

Barton and Gordon

Returning clothes while black is also a big no-no, apparently.

Conrad Barton, 30, and Geneva Gordon, 25, who are both African American, went to a Barneys store on Seventh Avenue in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to return a pair of designer jeans and a scarf on Oct. 4.

Barton had paid $1,045 for the jeans and $321 for a scarf on Sept. 11, according to the lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

When the couple arrived at the store, Barton left Gordon in the car and went into store to return the clothes along with the receipts and debit card used to make the purchases.

However, when he showed them to the store clerk, he asked him to wait a while and then disappeared. When 15 minutes had passed, a man who claimed to be the store manager emerged and demanded Barton produce his identification.

When Barton argued he didn’t need identification to return a couple of items of clothing, the man revealed he was actually a loss prevention officer — and then refused to return the clothes and the debit card to Barton.

“You’re being stereotyped when you are just following a regular store procedure,” said Barton, who works in transportation operations. “It shouldn’t have went down that route.”

An indignant Barton then went back to the car, and after hearing of the situation, Gordon went in. Once again, the loss prevention officer tried to argue with her, but fortunately, this time, the real store manager appeared and made the exchange.

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

After the incident, the couple hired an attorney who contacted Grace Flu, the store’s lawyer. She initially assured them the situation was being investigated but then soon after, stopped all communication with them. That’s when they decided to sue.

This isn’t the first time Barneys has been accused of stereotyping and racial discrimination.

In 2013, a college student, Trayon Christian, went to buy a Ferragamo belt from the high-end store. When he went to pay for it, the store clerk asked him for his ID. Christian showed the man his driver’s license, paid for the belt with his debit card and was going home when he was apprehended by two police officers. They cast doubt on his ability to afford the belt, said he purchased it with a fraudulent card and told him a Barneys employee contacted them. Chrsitian was held for two hours in a holding cell while the police interrogated him about his card.

The case was settled in 2014, according to the records.

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