Consumer Law

Judge acquits tourist in Macy's shoplifting case linked to racial profiling claims

A New York City judge has acquitted a Venezuelan tourist who had been accused of shoplifting from Macy’s, in a case that has been linked by her lawyer to claims of racial profiling by a number of major Big Apple retailers.

Maria Paez said she had simply put items in a Macy’s bag to carry them more easily as she shopped at the store in September, the Associated Press reports. Her family owns real estate and a pet-food company in her home country.


Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. rSnapshotPhotos /

Her lawyer, Daniel Hochheiser, contends she was targeted because she spoke Spanish and said what she thought when treated rudely by a fitting-room worker. “She stuck up for herself, and they didn’t appreciate that a foreigner was actually going to talk back to them, and they were going to teach her a lesson,” the attorney said.

During the six hours that Hochheiser says Paez was held at the store, pressured to sign a confession and agree to pay $500, she was unable to communicate with her 12-year-old son. He was left on his own until employees discovered him in the shoe department at closing time, the AP article recounts.

A spokeswoman for Macy’s declined to make any immediate comment when contacted by the news agency. However, the store has said it won’t tolerate discrimination.

Related coverage: “Another famed NY retailer faces ‘shop and frisk’ allegations in suit by black actor” “Accused shoplifters are nabbed by the long arm of retailers, not cops”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.