Amy Cooper — the White woman who became known as the “Central Park Karen” after her 2020 run-in with Black bird-watcher Christian Cooper (no relation) — has lost her lawsuit against her former employer, Franklin Templeton. In a viral video of the incident, Amy is seen confronting Christian in Central Park’s Ramble after he asks her to leash her dog in an area where it’s required at all times. Amy then called 911.
“There’s an African-American man, he’s recording me and threatening me and my dog,” said Cooper in the recording. At no point during the video, though, can the man be seen threatening her. Following Amy’s termination in May 2020, her former employer tweeted, “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.”
Cooper alleged in her lawsuit that she was fired on the basis of race and sex, and that Franklin Templeton defamed her, which led to emotional distress. She additionally claimed that “she was being held to a double standard at her job due to her sex, after three male staffers were not fired following allegations of sexual harassment and insider training, as well as a domestic violence conviction,” reports NPR.
United States District Judge Ronnie Abrams rejected Cooper’s claims of racial discrimination on Wednesday, citing that Franklin Templeton never referenced her race. Abrams also threw out her allegations of sex discrimination. “The misconduct that Plaintiff’s proposed comparators allegedly engaged in, which runs the gamut from plagiarism to insider trading to a felony conviction, is simply too different in kind to be comparable to her conduct in this case,” said Abrams.
Judge Abrams also ruled in his decision that “The contents of the viral video, as well as the dialogue surrounding it both in the media and on social media, were already matters of public knowledge,” rendering the defendants’ statements “in actionable as pure opinion.”
“I just have to commend our crisis management team, it was a holiday [and] everybody got together,” said Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson in an interview with Bloomberg. “We needed to spend time getting the facts. Sometimes videos can get manipulated and so you have to make sure that you’ve reviewed all the facts. I think the facts were undisputed in this case, and we were able to make a quick decision.”