New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. and its reported practice of using facial recognition software to bar lawyers involved in litigation against the company from attending events.
In a letter sent Tuesday to Madison Square Garden Entertainment, which owns Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, the New York attorney general’s office urged the company to stop the practice and questioned whether it violates New York Civil Rights Law, or other city, state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination and retaliation for engaging in protected activity.
As the letter details, there have been reports of Madison Square Garden venues using facial recognition software “to forbid all lawyers in all law firms representing clients engaged in any litigation against the Company” from entering its New York venues. This policy impacts about 90 law firms and thousands of lawyers, according to the letter.
“MSG Entertainment cannot fight their legal battles in their own arenas,” James said. “Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall are world-renowned venues and should treat all patrons who purchased tickets with fairness and respect. 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.”
The office is asking for a response from the company on how its use of facial technology does not lead to discrimination, with the letter claiming that the ban may dissuade lawyers from taking on cases against the company and that encouraging lawyers to drop cases in order to attend events may constitute retaliation.
Representatives from Madison Square Garden did not respond after requests for comment.
On Monday, State Senators Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Liz Krueger and assembly member Tony Simone introduced legislation that would add “sporting events” to the state’s existing civil rights law that prohibits “wrongful refusal of admission” of ticketed patrons to “places of public entertainment or amusement.” The law currently only applies to concerts and theatrical events.
Several firms impacted by the ban have also sued the company.