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Another profiling claim against New York department store

By Elizabeth Landers, CNN
updated 9:39 PM EST, Sat December 21, 2013
Macy's flagship store in Herald Square is accused in the latest claim of racial profiling against shoppers.
Macy's flagship store in Herald Square is accused in the latest claim of racial profiling against shoppers.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • New claim made against Macy's in Herald Square
  • Shopper said his purchase unnecessarily searched
  • Macy's says it will investigation allegations "vigorously"
  • Five people have cited racial profiling in New York City department stores this year

New York (CNN) -- A third person has accused Macy's flagship store in Herald Square of racial profiling after he purchased a $2,400 Louis Vuitton bag, according to his lawyer.

Halim Sharif, a club promoter in New York City, claims the department store stopped him and unnecessarily searched his purchase because he was black, said lawyer Kareem Vessup.

He is the fifth person to say he was targeted after shopping at a New York department store because of race this year. Three allegedly involved Macy's; the other two allegations were at Barneys New York.

Vessup also represents Kayla Phillips, who claims that four NYPD plainclothes officers forcefully stopped her after she left Barneys with her purchase earlier this year in February.

The incident involving Sharif occurred on April 19, 2013, when Sharif purchased the bag as a gift for a friend. On his way out of Macy's, a security alarm went off, his lawyer contends.

Sharif was stopped by a loss-prevention member employee at Macy's who asked to see his receipt. Though Sharif provided his receipt, he claims that the employee started going through his purchase.

"They beat up the purchase pretty badly," said Vessup, who said, "They [Macy's] became a little bit dismissive of Mr. Sharif."

Sharif managed to get cell phone video of the incident once a supervisor and manager intervened.

Vessup says the video is not going to be released, but it shows other shoppers who set off the security alarm but were not stopped; none were African- American or Hispanic, he said.

Sharif filed a complaint with Macy's but has received no response, according to his lawyer.

Macy's said Saturday, "We take any claim made by our customers very seriously and will investigate Mr. Sharif's allegation vigorously. Macy's has a zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.

"If Macy's policies have not been upheld, we will take swift and immediate action. As Mr. Sharif's case is pending litigation, we cannot comment further on any specifics relating to the lawsuit."

Macy's signed a customer bill of rights earlier this month. Civil rights leaders met with retail chain representatives and agreed to create the document.

The one-page document is to be posted to the department store websites, which will include Macy's, Barneys New York, Bloomingdales, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.

"Profiling is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated," the document states, drafted by the Retail Council of New York State, along with National Action Network and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

"Employees who violate the company's prohibition on profiling will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment," the document says.

CNN's Rande Iaboni contributed to this report.

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