Fired security manager says Philips Arena discriminated against - CBS46 News

Fired security manager says Philips Arena discriminated against black entertainers

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

A now fired security manager for Philips Arena has filed a lawsuit against the Atlanta Hawks, LLC and its vice president of customer service and operations, Jason Parker, for racial discrimination and retaliation.

(MORE: Read the entire lawsuit) 

Samuel Hayes III claims in the lawsuit that as manager of security operations who reported directly to Parker, he noticed that security measures were "enforced, or not enforced, based on race."

Hayes gives several examples in the lawsuit of situations were security exceptions were allegedly made for Caucasian entertainers, while similar exceptions were allegedly denied for African American entertainers.

The exceptions listed in the lawsuit were allegedly for allowing entertainers to bypass metal detectors, park in certain restricted areas or even enter the arena through a media entrance.

In the lawsuit, Hayes claims security exceptions were denied for concerts involving Drake, Future, Sean Combs, Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, Kayne West, Cedric "The Entertainer," Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley, 2 Chainz, Jeezy, The Dream, Kat Williams, Migos, Nelly and Tyler Perry, all of whom are African American.

Meanwhile, Hayes claims the same exceptions were granted for Caucasian entertainers, including Axel Rose, Brian Wilson (of AC/DC), Amy Schumer, Adele, Bon Jovi, production and staff from the Ringling Bros., rock group Radiohead, Ariana Grande, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Hayes says in the lawsuit that he repeatedly addressed his concerns with Parker, who allegedly said "hip bop acts draw a different crowd, and the white acts bring in more money," according to the lawsuit.

Specifically regarding Mayor Reed, Hayes claims in the lawsuit that Parker denied a request from Reed's security detail for the mayor to be dropped off at the media entrance to a Bad Boy Family Reunion concert that Hayes says the mayor attended as a ticket holder. "Parker denied that request even though the Atlanta Hawks had granted the same request when made by white entertainers and celebrities," according to the lawsuit. 

According to Hayes, Parker vented to him that the mayor "thinks he's a celebrity," and "has an attitude that he deserves special privileges" every time he comes in the building, adding that the mayor "thinks he owns the place."

Hayes says that at a later event at the arena, "Amy Schumer Live," Schumer's bodyguard requested that she be dropped off at the media entrance, which he denied. Hayes says the bodyguard complained, which resulted in him being called into a meeting with Parker where he was allegedly "scolded" for not granted the the request, and allegedly told to write an apology. 

Hayes says in the lawsuit that although he tried to eventually address the issue with Vice President and Chief Legal Officer T. Scott Wilkinson, he was ultimately fired one business day before former Atlanta Police Chief George Turner was set to become Vice President of Security, which is who Hayes would have started reporting to instead of Parker.

The Hawks say Hayes was fired due to poor performance.

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw released the following statement on the lawsuit.

“Samuel Hayes is a former security manager at Philips Arena. He was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless. We will defend vigorously.”

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