Amy Cooper gained online infamy last year after calling the police on a Black man in Central Park who had asked her to put her dog on a leash. She claimed he was threatening her. When footage of the confrontation went viral, she even lost her job at a major holding company. Now, the so-called “Central Park Karen” is suing her former employer and claiming to be the victim of anti-white discrimination.
A Racially-Charged Encounter
Cooper called the police on Black birdwatcher Chris Cooper (no relation) on May 25 last year — the same day as the murder of George Floyd. At a time when racial tensions were extremely high, Cooper’s call drew heavy criticism from people who perceived her actions to be discriminatory.
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
In the midst of the backlash, Cooper lost her job at the major holding company, Franklin Templeton.
“The facts were undisputed in this case, and we were able to make a quick decision,” Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson said following the termination. “The US is in a lot of pain right now, and our African-American colleagues are in a lot of pain.”
Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately. We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.— Franklin Templeton (@FTI_US) May 26, 2020
Central Park Karen Fights Back
Now, a year after the incident and Cooper’s firing, she is accusing Franklin Templeton of discrimination against her for being white, as well as public defamation.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, May 25, Cooper defended her actions, claiming that Chris Cooper had a history of “aggressively confronting” people with unleashed dogs in Central Park. It referenced a New York City Park board meeting where Chris Cooper stated “it has gotten ugly between birders and unleashed dog walkers.”
Additionally, the lawsuit mentioned a statement by an unnamed Black man who told press that he also feared Chris Cooper “because of his body language and screaming.”
Aside from providing justification for Cooper’s actions, the suit also takes aim at Franklin Templeton’s response to the incident. The filing alleges that, contrary to public statements by Johnson, the firm did not conduct a full and fair investigation before firing Cooper.
The former employee claims the company only interviewed her in the immediate aftermath of the encounter when she was still “palpably distraught and fearful of her safety.” The suit also alleges that the company failed to investigate Chris Cooper’s history of aggression toward people with unleashed dogs.
The suit claims that Franklin Templeton discriminated against Cooper for being a white woman. As evidence, it points to a male employee who had been incarcerated for slamming his wife’s head into a table before gaining a seat on the company’s board of directors.
Finally, the suit alleges that Franklin Templeton publicly defamed Cooper in statements regarding the incident, implying on Twitter that she was racist. The ensuing publicity resulted in “countless” harassing phone calls and texts from people who allegedly found her number through the company’s phone system.
The controversy has caused Cooper extreme emotional distress, she said, adding that her “personal and professional life has been destroyed.”
In response to the lawsuit, Franklin Templeton has maintained that they acted appropriately in the firing.
“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves, and that the company responded appropriately,” the firm said in a statement. “We will defend against these baseless claims.”