Amy Cooper, the white woman who called the cops on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park last year, is suing her former employer for discrimination.
The suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, accuses Franklin Templeton of failing to adequately investigate the confrontation before it fired her and for implying Cooper was racist in its public statements on the matter.
Cooper maintains the global investment firm “created and nurtured” the false notion that she was a “privileged white female ‘Karen’” after video of her run-in with Christian Cooper (no relation) went viral.
The woman called police after reportedly being asked to leash her dog, darkly warning the birdwatcher that she was “going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.”
The two were in an area of Central Park known as the Ramble, where dogs are required to be leashed.
Franklin Templeton fired Cooper the next day, announcing the decision along with a statement that “we do not tolerate racism of any kind.”
That tweet ― and the short nature of Templeton’s investigation ― figures heavily in her suit.
“The May 26, 2020 statement was intended to, and had the effect of, conveying that Franklin Templeton had performed a thorough and fair investigation, and that the result of the investigation was the conclusion that Plaintiff was a racist,” according to the suit.
Cooper contends she called the police not because she was racist but because she was “frightened to death” after being targeted by “an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park’s ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners.”
The suit claims Franklin Templeton would have realized this had it conducted a “legitimate investigation.” Instead, it “perpetuated and legitimized the story of ‘Karen’ vs. an innocent African American to its perceived advantage.”
Along with the defamation complaint, the suit also seeks unspecified damages for negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and racial and gender discrimination, according to Reuters.
The company defended its actions Wednesday.
“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately,” Franklin Templeton said in an emailed statement Wednesday. “We will defend against these baseless claims.”
In February, prosecutors dropped their case against Cooper, who faced one count of filing a false report. The decision was made after she completed five sessions of an educational program that included instruction about racial biases.
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