Former Philips Arena security manager sues Atlanta Hawks, alleges discrimination against black celebrities

Atlanta Hawks Sued: Black Celebrities Allegedly Treated Like Criminals At Philips Arena

Sam Hayes, a former security manager at Atlanta Hawks’ Philips Arena, has sued the management, alleging an established practice of treating black celebrities like criminals.

According to TMZ, Hayes alleged that Atlanta Hawks security staff members discriminated against several A-list black celebrities by requiring them to go through rigorous security checks that included passing through metal detectors, while white celebrities were allowed to bypass the process.

Several black celebrities, including Drake, Kanye West, Migos, and Tyler Perry, were forced to go through rigorous security checks, including passing through metal detectors, before they were allowed to perform at Philips Arena, Hayes alleged.

The black celebrities all requested to be allowed to bypass the metal detectors, but the management denied their requests.

However, several white celebrities who performed at Philips Arena, including Amy Schumer and Bon Jovi, were given V.I.P treatment. They were allowed to bypass the metal detectors on request, according to Sam Hayes.

Hayes, who was employed as a security manager at Philips Arena, is now suing Atlanta Hawks, alleging that he was fired wrongfully because he brought the attention of the management to the pattern of discrimination against black celebrities. He claimed that he observed the pattern of discrimination beginning from the start of his employment at Philips Arena in August of 2016.

Hayes claimed that he first noticed the pattern of discrimination against black celebrities by Hawks security staff members when Drake and Future performed at Philips Arena on August 26, 2016. The two black celebrities requested to be allowed to bypass metal detectors, but their requests were denied. However, when the rock band AC/DC performed at Philips Arena shortly after Drake and Future, their requests to bypass the metal detector were granted.

Hayes said that he soon noticed an unwavering pattern of denying requests made by black celebrities to bypass metal detectors and granting similar requests made by white celebrities.

When Kanye West asked to be allowed to bypass metal detectors, his request was denied, according to Hayes. Requests by several other black celebrities and groups, including The Comedy Get Down World Tour — featuring Cedric the Entertainer, Eddie Griffin and D.L. Hughley, George Lopez and Charlie Murphy — were also denied

The Dream, Old School Hip Hop Fest, Migos, 2 Chainz, and Tyler Perry, all had their requests to bypass metal detectors denied.

However, Hayes noticed that during the same period, requests by white celebrities to bypass metal detectors were granted. Amy Schumer, Adele, Ariana Grande, WWE Live Tour, Bon Jovi, and Ringling Brothers were all allowed to bypass rigorous security checks, according to Hayes.

Hayes said that he observed the obvious pattern of discrimination against black celebrities at the arena without interfering until April of 2017 when a black security officer insisted that a white member of Radiohead’s entourage would have to pass through a metal detector. The crew member reportedly protested by dropping his pants. White staffers intervened and allowed the Radiohead entourage member to bypass the metal detector, according to Hayes.

Hayes said he then approached Hawks management and tried to draw their attention to the pattern he had observed since he started his employment at Philips Arena in August of 2016.

Hayes claimed that Atlanta Hawks management responded to his complaint, saying that “Hip-hop acts draw a different crowd and the white acts bring in more money.”

He was fired soon after the incident in which he confronted Hawks management with what he considered to be evidence of discrimination against black celebrities. The management justified firing him by accusing him of taking action against junior staffers without the approval of the Human Resources department.

Hawks management has denied Hayes’ allegations, saying that his claims “are baseless,” and that he was “terminated for poor performance.”

A spokesperson reportedly told TMZ that Atlanta Hawks would defend “vigorously” against Hayes’ allegation.

[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]

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