Hawks Accused Of Discrimination

A former security manager is alleging racial discrimination in a lawsuit against the operators of Philips Arena in Atlanta for subjecting black artists to tougher security measures than white performers. 

Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.
Philips Arena
– Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga.

Samuel R. Hayes III filed the lawsuit against Atlanta Hawks LLC for allegedly allowing white performers to bypass security while denying similar requests made by black entertainers.

According to the suit, Drake and Future asked to bypass metal detectors when they performed at the arena Aug. 26 but were denied. AC/DC made the same request when they performed a week later, and were approved.

Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Migos, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Eddie Griffin and Katt Williams are among the artists who allegedly had their requests denied.

Meanwhile, Adele, Bon Jovi, Ariana Grande and Radiohead were given permission to bypass security, as well as access to special parking and entrance privileges, the lawsuit states.

The Hawks are denying the allegations.

“(Hayes) was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless,” Hawks Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw said in a statement to Pollstar. “We will defend vigorously.”

Hayes was fired April 28 for suspending a staffer and firing another without first consulting Human Resources. He denies being told to consult with HR for reprimanding insubordinate staff.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.