Woman fired over 'racist' Central Park confrontation sues former employer

Lula Sharp
May 27, 2021

Amy Cooper, the white woman who went viral in May 2020 for calling the cops on a Black man after he asked her to put her dog on a leash in Central Park, is now suing her former employer for racial discrimination.

Amy Cooper was sacked from her job amid the fallout of her Central Park confrontation.

Christian Cooper, a writer, editor and LGBTQ rights activist, informed her that dogs in that area had to remain on the leash.

"Even a perfunctory investigation would have shown that Plaintiff did not shout at Christian Cooper or call the police from Central Park on May 25, 2020, because she was a racist - she did these things because she was alone in the park and frightened to death after being selected as the next target of Christian Cooper, an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park's ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners", it alleges.

Last May, video was posted to social media of Amy Cooper calling 911 on birdwatcher Christian Cooper, alleging to police that an "African American man" threatened her life and the life of her dog.

Those statements concluded that Amy Cooper was racist, the lawsuit says, adding that the firm did not seek to interview anyone about the facts surrounding the incident. Amy Cooper called the police during a videotaped dispute with Christian Cooper, a Black man, to claim he was threatening her.

Cooper's suit states Franklin Templeton "never performed" an investigation and that their "alleged" results justified the "Karen" story. Following Cooper's termination, Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson told Fortune Magazine that the company executives "espouse zero tolerance for racism".

Amy Cooper was walking her dog while Christian Cooper was bird-watching at a wooded area of Central Park called the Ramble.

"We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves", the statement said.

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Had the company obtained a record of the New York City Park Board Meetings from prior to the incident, the suit claims, it would have shown that Christian Cooper had previously gotten into an altercation with another dog walker while he was birdwatching in the park, according to the suit.

The suit also alleged that Cooper was the victim of defamation and gender discrimination at the hands of Franklin Templeton. "We will defend against these baseless claims", the company said in the statement.

The incident, which occurred on the same day a Minneapolis police officer murdered George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, struck a chord with many Americans, who viewed Ms Cooper's actions as part of a long history of racist paranoia from white people about Black men putting them in danger with the police. It said it had completed an internal review and made a decision to terminate her, effective immediately.

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office in February dropped a misdemeanor charge against Cooper after she completed education and therapy classes on racial equity.

Following the incident, Ms Cooper apologized, though then as now, she downplayed the racist dynamics at play in the incident.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Christian Cooper told NPR that what the woman did was "pretty crappy without a doubt".

It also claims the company's actions caused Amy Cooper to suffer "severe emotional distress" and that she was suicidal.

Cooper is seeking lost pay and emotional damages, as well as punitive damages "to be determined at trial".

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