Woman in racist Central Park confrontation sues over firing

Carla Harmon
May 27, 2021

Ms Cooper, who had been working as a portfolio manager at the investment firm until she was sacked in the backlash to the call, accused the company of discrimination, saying an investigation would have been done if she were not a white woman.

Amy Cooper was sacked from her job amid the fallout of her Central Park confrontation.

The complaint was filed in NY federal court on Tuesday, exactly a year after Amy Cooper was caught on cellphone video in a verbal dispute with birdwatcher Christian Cooper, during which she falsely claimed to police that an "African American man" was threatening her and her dog.

Christian Cooper did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment on the lawsuit.

Ms Cooper lodged her complaint in a federal court in NY on Tuesday, arguing the public backlash against her interaction with Christian Cooper (unrelated), and her firing the next day from investment firm Franklin Templeton, "caused her such severe emotional distress that she was suicidal".

The white woman who was recorded on video calling police to claim that a Black bird-watcher was threatening her in New York City's Central Park a year ago filed suit against her former employer, alleging that the company did not properly consider her fear for personal safety prior to firing her.

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.

Franklin Templeton characterized the lawsuit's claims as "baseless" in a statement Wednesday and plans to defend itself.

She claims the accusations made by her employer are completely false.

"We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the company responded appropriately".

Christian Cooper accepted her apology in an interview with "The View" but said the incident was part of a much deeper problem of racism in the United States that must be addressed. The man, a prominent birder and LGBTQ activist, said he asked her to put a leash on her dog in an area of New York's Central Park known as the Ramble, which requires dogs to be restrained. "We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton".

Cooper alleges in Tuesday's suit that no such internal review took place.

Although Franklin Templeton didn't name Amy Cooper in its statements, she claims in her lawsuit that she was so well known by this point that the company's decision effectively labeled her a racist "with reckless disregard for the destruction of Plaintiff's life in the process". The charges were dropped in February after Cooper completed therapy that included instruction on not using racial bias. Such perspectives would have shown that Amy Cooper was "selected as the next pet owner he would attack" and that she had reasonable fear for her safety, the suit says.

It also claims the company's actions caused Amy Cooper to suffer "severe emotional distress" and that she was suicidal.

Christian Cooper told NBC News and the New York Times that he is often in the Ramble and asks for dogs to be leashed to preserve the area's environment and wildlife.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for loss of wages, bonus and unvested funds as well as emotional distress damages for alleged racial and gender discrimination, defamation and negligence, among other counts, in an amount to be determined at trial.

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