The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

White woman who called 911 on Black birder loses suit over termination

Amy Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper on May 25 after he asked her to leash her dog in Manhattan's Central Park. (Video: Christian Cooper)

A federal judge has dismissed a case brought by Amy Cooper, the White woman who in 2020 falsely called 911 on a Black man birdwatching in Central Park, against her former employer over her termination.

Southern District of New York Judge Ronnie Abrams on Wednesday dismissed Cooper’s lawsuit alleging her ex-employer, Franklin Templeton, discriminated against her based on her race and gender, defamed her and intentionally caused emotional distress.

The investment firm said on social media hours after video of the 2020 incident went viral that it was placing Cooper, without naming her, on administrative leave while it conducted an investigation. A day later, it announced the review had led to Cooper’s termination, also without naming her but adding that the company “does not tolerate racism of any kind.”

Cooper sued her ex-employer in 2021, alleging the company illegally fired her without performing a legitimate internal review and falsely portrayed her as a racist, while she was being labeled “Central Park Karen” by social media users for the incident. The suit also argued she was the victim of racial discrimination.

“Franklin Templeton’s alleged investigation and results provided legitimacy to the ‘Karen’ story, and appeared to provide justification for those who sought the destruction of the Plaintiff’s life,” Cooper’s suit claimed.

A spokeswoman with Franklin Templeton on Wednesday said the company was pleased the judge dismissed the case.

“We continue to believe the company responded appropriately,” Franklin Templeton spokeswoman Lisa Gallegos told The Washington Post in an email.

Attorneys representing Cooper did not immediately respond when The Post sought comment. Cooper could not be reached by The Post.

Amy Cooper was fired after calling 911 on a Black birdwatcher. Now she’s suing her ex-employer.

On May 5, 2020, Christian Cooper — who is not related to Amy Cooper — was birdwatching in Central Park when he noticed Amy and her dog, an unleashed cocker spaniel, standing right by a sign saying all dogs must be leashed, he told The Post in an interview shortly after the incident.

When he approached her and asked her to leash her pet that early morning, she refused, he told The Post. Christian Cooper, who said he usually carries dog treats, then attempted to throw a treat toward her dog.

He began recording when she threatened to call the police on him.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” she told him, pulling out her cellphone and dialing 911.

Christian Cooper chose to keep recording because he wasn’t going to become an active player of his “own dehumanization,” he told The Post.

“Please call the cops,” he said on video. “Please tell them whatever you’d like.”

The video quickly racked up millions of views after his sister posted it on Twitter.

The following day, Amy Cooper publicly apologized for her actions, saying she “reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions” when she should have leashed her dog.

“I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash,” she wrote. “I am well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause. … I hope that a few mortifying seconds in a lifetime of forty years will not define me in his eyes.”

State prosecutors charged her with false reporting months later. The criminal charges were later dropped.

On May 5, 2o21, Amy Cooper filed a lawsuit alleging Franklin Templeton “performed no investigation” into the incident, did not interview her nor Christian Cooper, and made no attempt at obtaining her full 911 call.

The company, the lawsuit states, also failed to take into consideration her achievements as an “exceptional employee” who earned “high performer bonuses” for three consecutive years, instead defaming her and discriminating against her based on her race and gender. This cost the woman a “substantial loss of earnings and benefits,” and “severe emotional distress” in the near and long future, the suit said.

Teo Armus, Jaclyn Peiser and Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.

Loading...