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Amy Cooper Sues Former Employer for Racial Discrimination, Claims She Was ‘Frightened to Death’ of ‘Overzealous Birdwatcher’


Amy Cooper, the white dog-walking Manhattan woman who last year went viral after being filmed calling 911 on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park, filed a lawsuit against her former employer, alleging the company discriminated against her because of her race.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claims that Franklin Templeton, where Cooper worked as a portfolio manager, publicly lied about conducting an internal investigation into the incident, and instead engaged in a coordinated effort to depict her as a racist with “reckless disregard for the destruction of [her] life.”

The company made several public statements last year saying it was performing a thorough investigation into the matter and fired Cooper soon after. Following Cooper’s termination, Franklin Templeton CEO Jenny Johnson told Fortune Magazine that the company executives “espouse zero tolerance for racism.”

Noting that the company failed to interview Cooper, the complaint further alleges that “but for [Cooper’s] race,” the company would have performed such an investigation and refrained from making “knowingly false statements” and terminating her employment.

The video at the center of the controversy picked up midway through Cooper’s encounter with Christian Cooper and showed her calling the police to report an “African American man” who was “threatening” her in the park.

Amy Cooper, who was promptly dubbed the “Central Park Karen” by social media users, argues in the lawsuit that Christian Cooper (hereafter referred to as “Christian” since they have the same last name) was an “overzealous birdwatcher” who was looking to scare dog owners.

“Even a perfunctory investigation would have shown that [Cooper] did not shout at [Christian] or call the police from Central Park on May 25, 2020 because she was a racist,” the suit stated. “[S]he did these things because she was alone in the park and frightened to death after being selected as the next target of [Christian], an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park’s ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners.”

According to the lawsuit, Christian has a long history of “aggressively confronting” owners who walked their dogs off-leash in violation of the park’s rules.

“It was Christian Cooper’s practice and intent to cause dog owners to be fearful for their safety and the safety of their dogs, and he had a history of doing so to people, including to one African American man who wrote national media stating: when I saw that video, I thought, I cannot imagine if he approached [Plaintiff] the same way how she may have genuinely been afraid for her life,’” the suit stated, referencing comments made by in Cooper’s defense by dog owner Jerome Lockett.

The suit also alleged that Cooper was the victim of defamation and gender discrimination at the hands of Franklin Templeton.

Prosecutors in Manhattan criminally charged Cooper last summer with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, but later agreed to dismiss the charge after she completed a five-session therapeutic educational program that included a racial bias component.

Read the lawsuit below.

[image via YouTube screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.