Woman who called cops on Black Central Park birder loses lawsuit against her employer

Amy Cooper’s lawsuit against Franklin Templeton, the firm that fired her, claimed they “performed no investigation" into the incident.

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A federal judge has dismissed a discrimination lawsuit that Amy Cooper — a white woman who went viral across social media for falsely calling police on a Black bird-watching man in Central Park — filed against her former employer.

According to The Washington Post, ​​Cooper, who claims she was portrayed as a racist while being labeled “Central Park Karen” by social media users, filed the suit against investment firm Franklin Templeton in 2021. She claimed that the company discriminated against her based on her race and gender when they terminated her following the incident.

“Franklin Templeton’s alleged investigation and results provided legitimacy to the ‘Karen’ story, and appeared to provide justification for those who sought the destruction of the Plaintiff’s life,” the lawsuit read, according to The Post.

This May 25, 2020 file image, taken from video provided by Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper, shows Amy Cooper with her dog calling police on him at Central Park in New York. The lawsuit she filed against her former employer for firing her over the incident was dismissed. (Photo: Christian Cooper via AP, File)

The incident in question occurred on the morning of Memorial Day 2020, May 25, when Christian Cooper — who does not have a connection to Amy Cooper, despite sharing a last name — was birding in Central Park. He noticed the woman and her pet, an unrestrained cocker spaniel, standing close to a sign that stated all dogs must be leashed.

Christian Cooper then reportedly approached Amy Cooper and asked her to put her pet on a leash, per the sign, which she refused to do. The bird watcher, who carried dog treats with him during his walks, then attempted to throw one in the direction of the cocker spaniel.

The situation escalated from there, with Christian beginning to record it after Amy pulled out her cell phone and threatened to call police “to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” He told The Post he continued to record because he wasn’t going to actively participate in his “own dehumanization.”

“Please call the cops,” he said on video, according to The Post. “Please tell them whatever you’d like.”

Hours after the recorded moment went viral, Franklin Templeton revealed on social media its officials had placed their staffer, who wasn’t named, on adminstrative leave while a probe of the incident was underway. The following day, the company claimed their investigation resulted in their still-unidentified employee’s firing, citing the firm’s lack of tolerance for “racism of any kind.”

That same day, Amy Cooper issued a public apology, claiming she should have just leashed her dog instead of reacting emotionally and making erroneous assumptions about Christian Cooper’s intentions.

“I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash,” she wrote, according to The Post. “I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause. … I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes.”

Months later, state prosecutors charged Amy Cooper with making a false report. The charges were ultimately dropped.

Her lawsuit against Franklin Templeton claims that her ex-employer “performed no investigation” into the incident, noting that they failed to contact her or Christian Cooper, nor did they make an effort to get her complete 911 call, per The Washington Post.

Franklin Templeton also reportedly disregarded her accomplishments as an “exceptional employee” who received “high performer bonuses” three years in a row, as she claimed, instead defaming her and harassing her because of her race and gender, The Post reported. According to Amy Cooper’s lawsuit, this caused her to suffer “severe emotional distress” and a significant loss of wages and benefits.

Cooper and her lawyers could not be reached for comment, but Franklin Templeton spokesperson Lisa Gallegos told The Post the company is pleased that Southern District of New York Judge Ronnie Abrams dropped the suit.

“We continue to believe,” Gallegos said, “the company responded appropriately.”

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