NY AG to Probe MSG Entertainment Over Lawyer Ban and Use of Facial Recognition Technology

The office of New York attorney-general Letitia James is looking into allegations of civil rights law violations against MSG Entertainment (NYSE: MSGE), which operates Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, among other venues and restaurants. 

The owners of the company have reportedly used facial recognition technology to turn away lawyers employed by firms involved in litigation against the company from entering its venues to attend events. Many of the lawyers ejected from the venues were not even directly involved in cases related to MSG and were just employed by the same firm.

The ban was first reported in October last year when long-time New York Knicks season ticket holder attorney Larry Hutcher had his season ticket revoked because his law firm was representing ticket resellers who were suing MSG.

The company reportedly sent letters to lawyers involved in various litigations against them, saying that “neither you, nor any other attorney employed at your firm, may enter the Company’s venues until final resolution of the litigation.” The ban impacts thousands of lawyers currently employed by 90 firms.

A New York Times report says that according to MSG officials, the decision to ban the lawyers was to prevent them from collecting evidence “outside proper litigation discovery channels.”

“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arenas,” said James. “Anyone with a ticket to an event should not be concerned that they may be wrongfully denied entry based on their appearance, and we’re urging MSG Entertainment to reverse this policy.”

James’ office also noted that according to research, facial recognition “may be plagued with biases and false positives against people of color and women.”

The attorney-general’s decision to probe MSG follows after New York state senators Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Liz Krueger, Assembly Member Tony Simone introduced legislation that seeks to prohibit MSG “from continuing the outrageous practice of refusing entry to patrons on a so-called ‘attorney exclusion list’ and others deemed to be hostile to the corporate interests of MSG.” 

The bill will add “sporting events” to an already-existing law that prohibits “wrongful refusal of admission” of patrons with a valid ticket to “places of public entertainment or amusement.” 

Information for this story was found via Financial Times, AP News, the New York Times, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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