The “Central Park Karen” who went viral last summer for calling the police on a Black birdwatcher is suing her former employer for firing her over the incident — accusing the company of axing her without a thorough investigation and discriminating against her because of her race.
In the Manhattan federal suit, Amy Cooper accuses her former employer, Franklin Templeton, of perpetuating her image as a “privileged white female ‘Karen'” by making public statements that it had fired her after conducting an investigation into the incident.
She went viral in May 2020 after video showed her yelling at birder Christian Cooper and calling the police to claim an “African American man” was “threatening” her while she was walking her dog in Central Park.
Her suit argues that she did not call the cops on Christian because she is “racist” — but rather because the “overzealous birdwatcher” selected her as a “target” in a feud between bird and dog lovers.
“Even a perfunctory investigation would have shown that Plaintiff did not shout at Christian Cooper or call the police from Central Park on May 25, 2020, because she was a racist — she did these things 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,” it alleges.
The suit notes that Franklin Templeton did not interview Amy, or the birdwatcher, during its investigation into the incident.
Had the company obtained a record of the New York City Park Board Meetings from prior to the incident, the suit claims, it would have shown that Christian Cooper had previously gotten into an altercation with another dog walker while he was birdwatching in the park, according to the suit.
Franklin Templeton, a holding company, fired Amy Cooper the day after the Central Park altercation, saying in a statement that it does “not tolerate racism of any kind,” the suit states.
The suit argues that the statement, which garnered more than 200,000 “likes” on Twitter, helped perpetuate the view that Amy Cooper is a racist.
She’s seeking unspecified damages for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence — and racial discrimination.
“The Defendants discriminated against the Plaintiff on the basis of her race,” the suit states.
“As a result of the Defendants’ discrimination, the Plaintiff has suffered substantial loss of earnings and benefits and endured severe emotional distress, and will continue to do so in the future.”
In a statement, Franklin Templeton called the claims in the suit “baseless.”
“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately. We will defend against these baseless claims,” the company said in the statement.
Amy Cooper was charged by the Manhattan DA last summer with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree — but the charge was later tossed by prosecutors after she completed a handful of therapy sessions.
“Ms. Cooper’s therapist reported that it was a moving experience and that Ms. Cooper learned a lot in their sessions together,’’ a prosecutor told the judge at the time.