Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be shopping there anytime soon:
MIDTOWN SOUTH — Cinthia Carolina Reyes Orellana had just finished trying on a set of shirts at Macy’s Herald Square one evening last summer, when she carried the two she planned to buy out of the dressing room and down the escalator to the floor below to continue shopping.
But as soon as the 29-year-old stepped off the escalator, a Macy’s security guard grabbed her, seized her purse, accused her of planning to steal the shirts and forcibly escorted her to a holding cell in the basement, according to a lawsuit.
Over the next three hours, she was searched, questioned, denied access to her phone to contact a lawyer or her family and ordered to admit her guilt by signing legal papers and forced to pay a $100 fine in cash before the security staff turned her over to the NYPD, according to the suit.
Macy’s then continued to harass her via mail, demanding additional fines even after the initial fee, in what her lawyer describes as a continuing policy by Macy’s to shake down minority customers.
“This coercive collection practice or scheme has become so profitable that Macy’s … has dedicated an entire unit within its existing store, which operates like a typical jail, equipped with holding cells, where alleged shoplifters are held for hours on end, and are pressured, threatened, and often harassed until they find no reprieve but to make civil penalty payments to [Macy’s],” according to the lawsuit filed last month in Bronx Supreme Court, but which has since been transferred to Manhattan Supreme Court.
The class-action lawsuit estimates that thousands of customers have been targeted using a similar “money collection scheme” that lawyers say preys upon black, Hispanic and other minority customers using a “shopkeeper’s privilege” rule in New York’s General Business Law that allows retailers to detain customers they believe tried to shoplift and ask them to pay a civil penalty without proving them guilty.