The Atlanta Hawks are being sued by a former employee after allegedly discriminating against black celebrities and terminating the staffer’s employment contract.
The complaint states that former Security Operations Manager Samuel Hayes is litigating against the Atlanta Hawks for alleged racially discriminatory security protocols. The laid off security manager claims that the security protocols were enforced selectively and had adverse effects on black celebrities looking to bypass venue metal detectors. Hayes goes on to claim that his whistleblowing ultimately resulted in his firing.
“Staff members observed that (Vice President of Customer Service) Jason Parker and (Security Systems Manager) Megan Lodestro demanded ‘extra tight security’ at black shows, and denied black entertainers the same security privileges they granted to white entertainers.” Hayes made sure to note that both Parker and Lodestro are white.
The lawsuit claims that a cherry-picked group of A-List celebrities, including Drake, Kanye West, and Migos, were denied requests to bypass security based solely on the color of their skin.
On the other hand, Hayes believes that caucasian celebrities were given royal treatment. Hayes suggests that white performers such as AC/DC, Adele, and Bon Jovi were allowed to cut through security without turning heads due to their skin tone.
The plaintiff also accused the venue of implementing different security measures based on the performer. Parker allegedly said that “Hip-hop acts draw a different crowd, and the white acts bring in more money.”
Hayes also alleges that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was denied admission at the media entrance because he is black. Parker denies this allegation, stating correctly that the mayor is “not a celebrity” and is therefore not entitled to VIP treatment. Parker added that the mayor “has this attitude that he deserves special privileges” despite being a civil servant.
Hayes received a written warning from Parker for “negative interactions” with others and was told he must be “intentional” about being “respectful, professional, and mindful of his tone and approach.”
The Atlanta Hawks deny the allegations, stating they will “defend vigorously” against the lawsuit.
Hayes’ Attorney Louise Smith declined to comment on the lawsuit.