Macy's, Bloomingdale's Among Stores Hit With Subpoenas Over Shop-and-Frisk

By Colby Hamilton on December 2, 2013 1:58pm | Updated on December 2, 2013 5:49pm

 The city's Commission on Human Rights subpoenaed Macy's and other retailors after they refused to hand over information about their security proceedures.
The city's Commission on Human Rights subpoenaed Macy's and other retailors after they refused to hand over information about their security proceedures.
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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

CIVIC CENTER — The city’s Commission on Human Rights has issued subpoenas to Macy’s and Bloomingdale's, and is set to deliver ones to Old Navy and Banana Republic soon, after the stores refused to voluntarily hand over details of their security policies following a string of shop-and-frisk complaints.

“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,” NYC Human Rights Commissioner Patricia Gatling said in a statement.

The companies have until December 10 to comply with the subpoenas and hand over the information on their policies for their New York City stores.

The Human Rights Commission made its initial request for information last month, in the wake of numerous allegations that some of the city’s biggest retailers were targeting non-white customers in their stores.

In a letter to retailers dated November 13, the commission requested information about the company’s “loss prevention policies; procedures for approaching and detaining individuals suspected of theft; records regarding all individuals accused of theft in the past two years; and what, if any presence NYPD officers have in the retail locations.”

That same day, Gatling testified before the city council about reports she said were “serious and disturbing.”

Gatling pointed to recent work by her agency to prove they meant business. In September, a Queens bakery was ordered to pay $25,000 in fines to the city after refusing to hire a woman because she was black.

The Commission declined to detail what actions could be taken against the retailors.

In a statement, Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan said the retailer was cooperating with the Human Rights Commission in the hopes of reaching a "mutually satisfactory arrangement."

"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," Kazan wrote.

A spokeswoman for Gap Inc., the parent company for both Banana Republic and Old Navy, said the company was also cooperating with the commission.

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