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Posted: July 06, 2017

Former Atlanta Hawks security manager sues; alleges racist practices

Kanye West was among the black artists subjected to more thorough security screening than white artists, a lawsuit filed by the Atlanta Hawks' former security manager claims. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
Kanye West was among the black artists subjected to more thorough security screening than white artists, a lawsuit filed by the Atlanta Hawks' former security manager claims. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

By Jennifer Brett, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA —

A former security manager for the Atlanta Hawks has filed suit against his former employer and the team’s vice president of customer service and security, alleging that “security measures were enforced, or not enforced, based on race” and that his firing was racially motivated.

The team disputes the claims, saying the plaintiff was fired due to poor performance.

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Samuel L. Hayes III filed suit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. Among the allegations:

“On Aug. 26, 2016, Drake and Future (both of whom are black) performed at Philips Arena. Both Drake and Future asked to bypass metal detectors but their requests were denied. One week later at the AC/DC concert at Philips Arena, Axl Rose and Brian Wilson (both of whom are white) requested to bypass metal detectors. Their requests were granted.”

The suit lists other examples of what Hayes said was a discriminatory practice of subjecting black entertainers to more thorough security measure than white entertainers. Kanye West wasn’t able to bypass the metal detectors ahead of his Sept. 12, 2016, concert. Neither were Cedric The Entertainer, Eddie Griffin, and D.L. Hughley before their Sept. 30, 2016, show.

Amy Schumer and her team were allowed to skip the measure when she performed on Oct. 15, 2015, Hayes said. Same for Adele. Katt Williams had to go through the metal detectors when he performed at Philips on Feb. 3, the suit said.

Hayes was fired, a decision he said in court documents “was based on race, including racial stereotypes, myths, assumptions, and preconceived notions of blacks (especially black men) as ‘angry’ and ‘aggressive.’”

The team disputed the allegations.

“Samuel Hayes is a former security manager at Philips Arena. He was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless,” said Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw. “We will defend vigorously.”


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