Woman sues ex-employer for racial discrimination after viral Central Park incident
May 27 2021
Amy Cooper, who went viral and became known as "Central Park Karen" past year after she called NY police and falsely reported a Black birdwatcher was threatening her life, is suing her former employer, arguing they fired her without properly investigating the incident.
Franklin Templeton fired Cooper the next day.
She then did call, saying she was being threatened.
Prosecutors in Manhattan criminally charged Cooper last summer with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, but later agreed to dismiss the charge after she completed a five-session therapeutic educational program that included a racial bias component.
In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Cooper claims that Franklin Templeton, where she worked as an insurance portfolio manager, unfairly labeled her a racist and what would then be characterized as Central Park "Karen", a privileged white female attacking someone due to their skin color.
Amy Cooper, who was promptly dubbed the "Central Park Karen" by social media users, argues in the lawsuit that Christian Cooper (hereafter referred to as "Christian" since they have the same last name) was an "overzealous birdwatcher" who was looking to scare dog owners.
Amy Cooper called 911 and said in an increasingly frantic tone that a Black man was threatening her, according to video of the incident he filmed. Following Cooper's termination, Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson told Fortune Magazine that the company executives "espouse zero tolerance for racism".
The video at the center of the controversy picked up midway through Cooper's encounter with Christian Cooper and showed her calling the police to report an "African American man" who was "threatening" her in the park.
"We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately", the statement said. "We will defend against these baseless claims". He added: "I'm not sure that her one minute of poor decision-making, bad judgment and, without question, racist response necessarily has to define her completely".
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. "Franklin Templeton would have conducted a proper investigation before firing her if she was of a different race or a different gender". "We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton".
The lawsuit alleges that Franklin Templeton "did not seek to interview Jerome Lockett or anyone else familiar with Mr. Cooper's past in Central Park to obtain their perspective".
It also claims the company's actions caused Amy Cooper to suffer "severe emotional distress" and that she was suicidal.
Once criticised all over the world for being a racist, Cooper is now accusing her employer of being a racist and is seeking damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, as per Reuters.
"Considering that Amy Cooper has already lost her job and her reputation, it's hard to see what is to be gained by a criminal charge, aside from the upholding of principle", he wrote.