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Will Madison Square Garden Face Consequences for Blocking Lawyers From Banned Firms?

MSG Entertainment, which operates Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, is facing litigation from numerous lawyers because it banned their entry into these venues. Starting in July 2022, MSG Entertainment sent letters to opposing attorneys at approximately 90 law firms, telling them, "Neither you, nor any other attorney employed at your firm, may enter the Company's venues until final resolution of the litigation."

MSG has enforced its lawyer ban through the facial recognition technology used at the venues. The New York Times reported on several instances of MSG using this facial recognition against attorneys. For example, a lawyer accompanying her daughter's Girl Scout troop to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall was turned away. Other lawyers trying to attend Knicks and Rangers games were similarly turned away at the door after a facial recognition system compared their faces to the photos on their firm's website. Several law firms have current litigation pending against MSG over these bans. They claim MSG's actions violate a state anti-discrimination law prohibiting "wrongful refusal of admission" to "places of public entertainment or amusement." This law does not apply to sporting events.

Now, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned MSG that it may be violating “anti-bias laws and dissuading lawyers from taking on cases such as sexual harassment or job discrimination claims against this company." The attorney general’s office cited research showing that facial recognition software “may be plagued with biases and false positives against people of color and women.” In response, MSG said it was “merely excluding a small percentage of lawyers only during active litigation” to prevent “improper disclosure and discovery.” The company further stated, “Our policy has never applied to attorneys representing plaintiffs who allege discrimination or harassment.”