NEW YORK – (AP) – The New York Attorney General warned the owner of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday that he may be violating anti-bias laws by barring attorneys from his venues if they work for Companies filing the lawsuit work.
The attorney general’s office said in a letter to MSG Entertainment that the ban — and the company’s use of facial recognition technology to enforce it — could violate anti-discrimination laws and prevent attorneys from taking cases such as sexual harassment or workplace discrimination against the company.
“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their litigation in their own arenas,” Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all customers who have purchased tickets with fairness and respect.”
The ban came to light in October 2022 when attorney Larry Hutcher, a longtime New York Knicks season ticket holder, was told his seats had been revoked because his law firm represents ticket resellers who are suing MSG. He then filed a lawsuit.
Since then, other attorneys have come up with stories of being banned from concerts, sporting events and shows, including the Rockettes’ Christmas Gala.
The policy potentially affects thousands of attorneys at numerous firms and will be enforced through the use of technology that scans the faces of people entering venues owned by MSG and matches them to a database of attorneys from banned firms.
The attorney general’s office said research showed facial recognition software “can be plagued with prejudice and false positives against people of color and women.”
The Attorney General is asking MSG to respond by February 13 and identify the company’s efforts to ensure compliance with applicable anti-discrimination laws.
In a statement, an MSG representative said the policy “does not unlawfully prohibit anyone from entering our venues and it is not our intention to discourage attorneys from representing plaintiffs in litigation against us.” We only suspend a small percentage of attorneys during active litigation.”
The statement continued, “Our policy never applies to attorneys representing plaintiffs alleging sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace.”
MSG officials have also previously said it is not “unreasonable” for MSG to want to protect itself from “improper disclosure and discovery” during active litigation.
New York state lawmakers introduced a bill earlier this week that would ban sports venues like Madison Square Garden from denying entry to perceived enemies of their owners.
An MSG spokesman said the bill’s sponsors sided with “lawyers representing ticket scalpers and other money thieves.”
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