Published: Thu, May 27, 2021

Woman fired over 'racist' Central Park confrontation sues former employer

Woman fired over 'racist' Central Park confrontation sues former employer

Amy Cooper, who was sacked last May after she was videotaped calling police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City's Central Park, is suing her former employer, claiming it did not adequately investigate the incident.

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

Cooper's May 25, 2020 dispute with the bird-watcher Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, drew wide attention after a video surfaced of her calling the police and saying "there's an African-American man threatening my life".

Amy Cooper was charged by Manhattan prosecutors last July with filing a false police report.

Amy Cooper filed a federal complaint against investment management company Franklin Templeton on Tuesday, 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.

This image from a May 25, 2020, video provided by Christian Cooper, shows Amy Cooper with her dog talking to Christian Cooper in Central Park in New York City. Amy Cooper, the white woman who called 911 on Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper in the park, is suing her former employer for firing her over the incident.

Franklin Templeton maintains that that the company did the right thing in firing Cooper.

Amy Cooper's lawsuit states that said she did not call the police because she was racist, but "because she was alone in the park and frightened to death after being selected as the next target of Christian Cooper, an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park's ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners".

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

Christian Cooper recorded Amy Cooper in the park.

The former portfolio manager alleges that Franklin Templeton "performed no investigation" into the incident, did not interview her or Christian Cooper, and made no attempt at obtaining her full 911 call. "We will defend against these baseless claims".

"I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life", she said, later repeating Christian Cooper's race. He added: "I'm not sure that her one minute of poor decision-making, bad judgment and, without question, racist response necessarily has to define her completely".

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

"The Defendants' announcements to the effect that they had conducted an investigation, and that the investigation concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist when Defendants knew they had not conducted an investigation which concluded indisputably that the Plaintiff was a racist, was extreme and outrageous", the suit claims.

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.

Following the incident, Ms Cooper apologized, though then as now, she downplayed the racist dynamics at play in the incident. The charge was dropped in February by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office after Cooper completed five "psychoeducation and therapy" sessions as part of its restorative justice program.

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