Amy Cooper
(Melody Cooper / Twitter)

‘Central Park Karen’ Who Called Police on Black Birdwatcher Sues Former Employer for Racial Discrimination

Amy Cooper, the white woman who was recorded on a cell phone video in 2020 calling the police on a Black man who was birdwatching in New York City’s Central Park and claiming he was “threatening” her, is now suing her former employer, accusing them of firing her without properly considering her fear for personal safety.

According to NBC News reporter Doha Madani, Cooper has filed a federal complaint against investment management company Franklin Templeton, “alleging that the company terminated her based on her race and gender while also failing to properly investigate the viral incident that made national headlines.”

The lawsuit, which was filed exactly one year after the Central Park incident, requests a jury trial. In their own statement, Franklin Templeton called the lawsuit’s claims “baseless” and said they plan to defend their actions.

“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately,” the statement said.

As it was widely reported last year, Amy Cooper called 911 on Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper (no relation), alleging that he had “threatened her life and the life of her dog.” Christian Cooper’s sister posted the video on social media where it quickly went viral and ultimately led to Amy Cooper’s termination.

At the time, Christian Cooper told NBC News “he approached [Amy] to ask her to put her dog back on a leash, which is the policy for the Ramble area of Central Park. Amy Cooper told NBC New York last year that she overreacted and was sorry.”

“When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize, especially today, that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury,” Amy Cooper said.

Franklin Templeton reacted swiftly as the news and the footage continued to spread across the internet, announcing that it had terminated Amy Cooper’s employment.

“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement. “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”

In her new lawsuit, Amy Cooper alleges that Franklin Templeton “failed to launch a legitimate investigation into the matter and its public statement added legitimacy to the ‘Karen’ narrative” while also characterizing Christian Cooper as “an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park’s ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners.” The suit also claims that the company discriminated against Amy Cooper based on her race and gender, resulting in a loss of earnings and severe emotional distress.

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: August 11

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. Eli Lilly Plans…

The Importance of Business-Community Partnerships

Businesses increasingly play a key role in building stronger communities. It’s something that people in the past few years have come to expect. It’s created not only a way to improve local communities, but also boost an organization’s employee morale, loyalty and brand reputation. One of the main ways businesses…

CDO Series: Humana’s Carolyn Tandy

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the first interview of a series of articles…