A white woman who said that she was unfairly fired and branded a racist by her former employer after calling the cops on a Black bird-watcher in a New York park ― leading social media users to dub her “Central Park Karen” ― has had a discrimination lawsuit thrown out.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams on Wednesday dismissed the suit filed by Amy Cooper against investment firm Franklin Templeton, determining that her allegations of discrimination on the basis of race and sex — as well as defamation, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress — were unsubstantiated.
“We are pleased that the court has dismissed the lawsuit. We continue to believe the company responded appropriately,” a representative for Franklin Templeton said in a statement to HuffPost.
The company announced Cooper’s termination on social media shortly after video of her May 2020 encounter with a man named Christian Cooper ― with whom she shares no relation ― went viral. He had asked her to leash her dog in the park, prompting the woman to call 911 and accuse the bird-watcher of threatening her.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she said in the video.
Prosecutors, who charged her with filing a false report, said that Cooper also made a second 911 call in which she claimed that a Black man “tried to assault her in the Ramble area of the park.” A judge last year agreed to drop the criminal charge against her after she completed five sessions of an educational program that included instruction about racial bias.
Franklin Templeton quickly placed Cooper on administrative leave over the incident, before tweeting that the company had fired her after an internal review.
“We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton,” it said at the time.
Cooper’s lawsuit accused the company of making defamatory statements against her in that tweet and claimed that an internal investigation was not performed.
However, Abrams ruled that merely watching video of the incident and holding a discussion within the company would “meet a reasonable interpretation of ‘internal review.’”
“Plaintiff may take issue with the sufficiency of Defendants’ investigation into the incident, but she has not plausibly alleged that no investigation was conducted at all,” the judge said this week.
If someone inferred that the company was calling Cooper a racist in its tweet, that would constitute “protected opinion,” according to Abrams.
“It is well-established that an accusation of bigotry is a protected statement of opinion, rather than a defamatory statement of fact capable of being proven true or false,” she said.
An attorney for Cooper did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Thursday.