New York Attorney General Letitia James is demanding answers from Madison Square Garden (MSG) Entertainment regarding its use of facial recognition technology to ban lawyers from entering its venues.
Attorneys involved in litigation against MSG Entertainment, in addition to all lawyers working at law firms in cases against the company, have reportedly been barred from entering the company’s venues, including Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall. Lawyers entering the facilities are identified through the use of facial recognition technology.
“We write to raise concerns that the policy may violate the New York Civil Rights Law and other city, state, and federal laws prohibiting discrimination and retaliation for engaging in protected activity,” wrote James in a Jan. 25 letter to the company.
The ban is estimated to apply to lawyers at more than 90 law firms, according to James, who demanded MSG Entertainment provide a justification for the policy and information on efforts to comply with human rights laws by Feb. 13. “MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arenas,” said James in a statement. “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 Dolan, CEO of MSG Entertainment, said in an interview today (Jan. 26) with Fox 5 that he’s happy to answer James’ questions but will not back down from the company’s ban. When asked why MSG Entertainment is targeting lawyers who work for firms with litigation against the company but aren’t directly linked to the cases, Dolan responded that “there’s no way to tell which attorneys are working on the case and which aren’t.”
However, MSG Entertainment said it is “merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation,” in an emailed statement. The company also said its policy doesn’t unlawfully prohibit entry to venues and has never applied to attorneys working on sexual harassment or employment discrimination cases against MSG Entertainment.
Update: This story has been updated to include comments from MSG Entertainment.