A former employee of the Atlanta Hawks is suing the basketball organization and another employee for treating entertainers and politicians visiting the Hawks differently based on race, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
Samuel Hayes, a former Security Operations Manager for the club, claims in the suit that there were different sets of security protocol for black and non-black entertainers who visited Philips Arena. Hayes said the protocol, when enforced differently, was to the detriment of black entertainers. Hayes also claimed he was fired because of his race.
According to TMZ, Hayes first took notice of racially-charged decision making by the staff in August 2016, when Future and Drake made their way into the Philips Arena to perform for their Summer Sixteen tour. Hayes claims his White boss denied their request to sidestep the metal detectors, though AC/DC were able to bypass them when they performed a week later. Hayes alleges he continually noticed the pattern when it came to other Black celebrities wanting to bypass the metal detectors such as Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Migos, Tyler Perry and Katt Williams. Hayes says his White boss let other White stars like Ariana Grande, Adele, Bon Jovi and the WWE Live Tour avoid the detectors without a problem.
Sometime around April 2017, Samuel Hayes was let go after he says he brought these accusations to a head during a conversation with his managers. Allegedly, they told him, “Hip-hop acts draw a different crowd and the White acts bring in more money.” His higher-ups, however, are claiming the complete opposite, saying they fired Hayes because of the way he treated lower-level staff without speaking to Human Resources first. The Atlanta Hawks have vehemently denied all allegations made by Hayes, who is now suing the team. “[Samuel Hayes] was terminated for poor performance and his claims are baseless. We will defend vigorously,” the team’s spokesperson told TMZ Sports.