A current employee of the Atlanta Hawks has corroborated allegations of discriminatory treatment toward visiting black entertainers by the organization, a new court document shows.
Jeremy Carr, a 21-year-old security staffer for the Hawks, said this week that white celebrities and entertainers have been granted security concessions at Philips Arena that their black counterparts have not.
Originally Samuel Hayes, a terminated Hawks security employee, filed a lawsuit July 6 against Atlanta Hawks LLC, which operates Philips Arena, alleging that black entertainers were subject to more stringent security screening than non-black performers.
Nzinga Shaw, the Hawks’ Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, claimed Hayes’ allegations had no merit when the lawsuit came out: "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 Hawks released an identical statement following Carr’s account. A lawyer defending Hayes did not wish to comment.
Carr started working for the Hawks in February. He directly reported to Hayes. One of his jobs was to man the door at the media entrance, where security enforcement would vary, he said.
“I have seen white entertainers and celebrities access the Arena through the media entrance, but I have never seen black entertainers and celebrities access the Arena through the media entrance,” Carr said.
Carr alleges that on numerous occasions two of his white bosses — Catie Scott and Emily Drexler — told him to let white entertainers through the media entrance at Phillips Arena. He says he was instructed not to search them even though the media entrance has no metal detectors.
On three occasions in the month of April when Neil Diamond, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tim McGraw performed, Carr said he was told not to search them. Carr also said he often worked the loading dock, which comes equipped with metal detectors, and that black talent was unloaded there and searched, including T.I and Chris Brown.
“Based on what I witnessed, it seemed that management was willing to bend security policy and procedure for white entertainers and celebrities, but not for black entertainers and celebrities,” Carr said.
Carr said he had many meetings with Hayes about this issue and what he saw. He alleged he never noticed any changes.
Jason Parker, the head of security at the time who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, was someone that Carr said he kept his distance from. He said Parker had a habit of speaking improperly to several black employees. Carr also claimed the reason there were no changes was because Parker authorized other white bosses to bend security policy for white entertainers.
After Hayes was terminated, Carr alleges management called a meeting on July 7. Before his leave, Hayes had asked for pay raises for his entire staff, which were never given until his firing and announced at this meeting. Before the meeting was over, management had a specific request. Carr wasn’t at the meeting, but a co-worker made sure he was informed.
“My colleague also told me that management advised the staff not to talk to Mr. Hayes because he was suing the ATL Hawks,” Carr said.