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Barclays Center Box Seat Holders Allege Bias

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - Three men with box seats at Barclays Center were harassed, followed and once charged $1,000 for a cold pizza because they're black, according to a $4 million federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

Ludwig's Drug Store agreed to pay $939,000 over a three-year period to Barclays Center owner Forest City Enterprises for 10 tickets to events at the arena.

Suite manager Glen Defreitas and drug store shareholders Jermaine Pratt and Sean Scarborough regularly use the box and are the only black licensees at Barclays, according to the complaint.

They say they were subjected to adverse treatment because of their race.

On Oct. 26, they say they ordered a pizza for a guest. After waiting an hour, they requested ice and were allegedly given ice in a dirty bucket.

When the cold pizza finally arrived, the men were accused of not paying for it, even though their credit card was on file, the lawsuit claims.

Pratt says he paid for the pizza with his credit card, which was then charged $1,000.

"Upon information and belief, the $1,000 was just for the pizza," the lawsuit states.

Defreitas says he was approached by the senior vice president of suite and ticket sales for Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets and asked in a threatening manner, "Why are you always here?" and "You have been coming here a lot."

Defreitas, Pratt and Scarborough say they were often ignored by the center's staff and forced to wait hours for their orders to arrive, "if they arrived at all."

Suite attendants allegedly refused to provide them food and beverages without first getting verification from a supervisor. Even then, the men say, their orders were often unfulfilled.

They also say their box is rarely if ever cleaned, while others are cleaned regularly.

The drug store demands $4 million for alleged civil rights violations from the arena, its owner and Compass One, which owns the arena's catering company.

Barry Baum, a spokesman for Barclays Center, said they "have neither received legal papers nor any complaints from the suite holder."

"In fact, we have never received a complaint like this since Barclays Center has opened," Baum said in a statement. "We have a zero tolerance policy for any type of discriminatory behavior. It is against everything that Barclays Center stands for. We take these matters very seriously and will immediately and thoroughly investigate them."

Earlier this month, the New York attorney general announced investigations of Macy's Inc. and Barneys New York Inc., following complaints that black customers were stopped by police after making big-ticket purchases.

Ludwig's Drug Store is represented by Leonard Zack.

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