New Yorker AG says banning MSG lawyers could violate anti-bias laws

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Attorney General said Wednesday that Madison Square Garden may be violating anti-bias laws by allowing attorneys from firms involved in litigation against MSG to open the venues, including Radio City Music Hall and the Garden itself, denied.

The attorney general’s office said in a letter to Madison Square Garden officials that the ban and the use of facial recognition technology to enforce it potentially violate antidiscrimination laws and could prevent attorneys from taking cases such as sexual harassment or workplace discrimination lawsuits against MSG.

“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 bar ban came to light in October 2022 when attorney Larry Hutcher, a longtime New York Knicks season ticket holder whose law firm represented ticket resellers who were suing MSG, was told his tickets had been revoked and filed a lawsuit in response .

The policy potentially affects thousands of attorneys at numerous firms and will be enforced using technology that scans faces and matches them to a database of attorneys from banned firms.

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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.

A request for comment was sent to a spokesman for MSG on Wednesday.

MSG officials have defended the ban, saying in a statement in November, “It is not unreasonable that during active litigation we want to protect our right to protect ourselves from improper disclosure and discovery.”

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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