A lawsuit from a former Atlanta Hawks employee claims his white manager instituted a "system of discrimination" against black artists at the Hawks-operated Philips Arena. The suit from former Hawks security manager and Philips events security handler Samuel Hayes alleges that he was fired after pointing out the discrimination, TMZ reported Thursday. The team has denied the allegations. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
In addition to housing Hawks and Atlanta Dream events, Philips Arena is frequently the site of some of Atlanta's biggest concerts. According to the lawsuit, that's where the alleged discrimination comes into play. Hayes says that black performers routinely had their requests to skip the metal detectors denied, while white artists had their requests honored. This system, Hayes says in the suit, was immediately obvious upon the start of his employment in August of last year.
Among the performers whose metal detector bypass requests were allegedly denied are Drake, Future, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Jeezy, and Migos. Cedric the Entertainer and D.L. Hughley, who performed at Philips as part of the Comedy Get Down Tour, also allegedly had their requests denied. The same requests for acts like Bon Jovi and Adele, the suit says, were granted.
Hayes says he was cut from his position for bringing up this pattern to management. The reason he was given, however, involved the reprimanding of lower-level employees without proper consultation of the Human Resources department. In a statement to TMZ, a Hawks spokesperson added that Hayes was fired due to "poor performance" and vowed to vigorously defend against his claims.
Philips Arena did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.
Read the full report, which also includes a bit about a member of Radiohead's tour crew allegedly dropping trou when told to utilize the venue's metal detector, right here.