By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – A white woman who falsely told police she was threatened by a black bird keeper in New York City’s Central Park has been accused of wrongfully firing her former employer Franklin Templeton and racially profiling her.
In a ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams dismissed a claim that Franklin Templeton and CEO Jenny Johnson had tarnished Amy Cooper’s reputation after citing the issue three times and saying it does not tolerate racism. A video of the incident went viral.
A Manhattan judge said Cooper was fired from her job in May 2020 because of her race or gender, and an alleged offensive behavior by a male employee without a thorough investigation.
Attorneys for Cooper did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Franklin Templeton, part of San Mateo, California-based Franklin Resources Inc. (NYSE: ) said it “responded appropriately” to the incident and was pleased with the dismissal.
Cooper She joined Franklin Templeton in 2015 and was working as an insurance portfolio manager when a video released on May 25, 2020 showed her looking angry after being confronted by a non-relative of birdwatcher Christian Cooper.
Amy Cooper is seen saying, “An African-American man is threatening my life,” after Christian Cooper asked her to kill her dog to comply with the park’s rules.
The video was taken the day after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, sparking nationwide protests against racial injustice. Franklin Templeton fired Amy Cooper the next day, and she was branded “Central Park Karen” on social media, an epithet for a privileged white woman.
Cooper argued that the defendants’ presentation indicated that Franklin Templeton’s alleged racism had been obscured from the video, but the judge disagreed.
“The content of the viral video, as well as the discussion surrounding it in the media and social networks, were already matters of public knowledge,” Abrams wrote, calling the defendants’ statements “inapplicable as pure opinion.”
Manhattan prosecutors charged Cooper with filing a false police report in July 2020. They dropped the charges seven months after Cooper completed therapy, which included instructions not to use sex.
The case is Cooper v. Franklin Templeton et al., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, number 21-04692.