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Madison Square Garden rejected job applicants for having criminal records, lawsuit claims

Apr 26, 2017 / Media Coverage / New York Daily News — Stephen Rex Brown

The Knicks aren’t the only lousy thing at Madison Square Garden — the Garden’s hiring practices are awful as well, according to a new class action lawsuit.

In fact, the place that calls itself “The World’s Most Famous Arena” habitually discriminates against job applicants with criminal records such as misdemeanors, the suit says.

Clint Millien says in a lawsuit to be filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday that MSG rescinded its offer for a food prep job after he failed a background check due to two misdemeanor convictions when he was 19 years old.

“Why is it still biting me in the ass?” said Millien, 28, of Irvington, N.J.

He declined to share specifics about the convictions, but said they were nonviolent. Millien said he had failed to disclose one of the convictions on his job application because he was confused.

His lawsuit now alleges that Madison Square Garden violated the law by not sending Millien a copy of the background report that resulted in the company rescinding its offer in August 2015 for the $11-an-hour job.

“I was very excited to get to work at the ‘Mecca’ — that was something to brag about,” said Millien.

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Attorney Christopher McNerney said his firm had conducted an investigation indicating that Millien was not the only person denied a job at the Garden due to a background report they never saw.

A judge must approve the suit becoming a class action that would include all job applicants in the last five years who “were subjected to an adverse action by MSG” due in part to background reports they did not receive, according to the lawsuit.

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The Garden is owned and operated by the Madison Square Garden Company, which is headed by James Dolan.

The suit comes amid a growing national movement to protect job-seekers with criminal records from being rejected outright by employers. Mayor de Blasio signed the “Fair Chance Act” strengthening protections for people with criminal records in June 2015.

“In this age of mass incarceration, where many New York City residents are trying to find gainful employment despite their criminal histories, and struggling to do so, it is even more important to ensure that employers live up to their obligation to give applicants a fair evaluation under the law,” McNerney said.

Millien hopes the suit will prevent others from going through the same ordeal.

It wasn’t the first time he has been denied a job due to his past convictions.

“It’s not about the money or anything. There are a lot of people like me that are young and made a mistake and it’s hard for them to get jobs,” he said.

Applying to Madison Square Garden was extra frustrating because Millien had done well during the interview. The recruiter even touted the opportunities for advancement. Millien passed a drug test and signed offer documents.

But he then received a call from an MSG employee telling him to not go to job orientation because “something came up” in his background report, he recalled.

The employee said he’d receive paperwork regarding the rejection in the mail.

“I never received anything from them,” Millien said.

He is now seeking damages to be determined at trial.

“I understand I made a mistake — but I came back way better than ever before,” Millien said.

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