Former employee sues Hawks for racial discrimination

Posted: 11/07/2017 in NBA, Sports
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The Atlanta Hawks are being sued by a former employee for discriminatory practices when it came to race, according to a report from FOX 5.

Samuel R. Hayes, a former security operations manager for the Hawks, alleges in his lawsuit that the Hawks fired him because he was black, and that the team used different security protocols based on the race of celebrities that attended games.

Hayes states black celebrities such as Drake, Future, Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Kat Williams, Migos, Tyler Perry, and others were not given permission to bypass security. White-passing celebrities such as AC/DC, Amy Schumer, Adele, Bon Jovi, and Ariana Grande were given permission to skip security.

The level of security within Philips Arena on any given night also differentiated based on the race of the performer. Hayes alleges security managers demanded “extra tight security” at black shows. This discrepancy was pointed out by Hayes and some of his fellow employees.

The Hawks issued a statement to FOX 5 that they will fight Hayes and his “baseless” claims.

“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,” the organization said through Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Nzinga Shaw.

This marks the fourth straight year in which the Hawks have grappled with controversies surrounding discriminatory practices.

In 2014, former team owner Bruce Levenson was forced out of the franchise when he complained in a team email that Philips Arena was “too black” which deterred the middle-age white crowd in his estimation.

The Hawks parted ways with former general manager Danny Ferry in 2015 after he made disparaging comments about African players – but specifically with relation to free-agent target Luol Deng – in a team meeting. An independent investigation into the incident later concluded that Ferry wasn’t motivated by racial, ethnic, or origination bias or animus.

In 2016, during a season-ticket holder event, ex-general manager Wes Wilcox made a racially insensitive remark about black women being “angry” and “argumentative.” The Hawks disciplined Wilcox a month later following an investigation, then moved on from Wilcox altogether this summer as they shuffled the front office.


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