, the white woman who called police
on a Black birdwatcher in Central Park
last year, is suing her former employer for discrimination.
The suit, filed in federal court in Manhattan
on Tuesday, accuses Franklin Templeton
of failing to adequately investigate the incident before firing Cooper and of implying Cooper was racist
in public statements on the matter.
Cooper claims that the global investment firm "created and nurtured" the false notion that she was a "privileged white female 'Karen'" after a video of her encounter with Christian Cooper (no relation) went viral
After allegedly being asked to leash her dog, the woman reportedly called police, darkly warning the birdwatcher that she was "going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life."
The two were in the Ramble section of Central Park, which requires dogs
to be leashed.
The following day, Franklin Templeton fired Cooper, announcing the decision with the statement, "We do not tolerate racism
of any kind."
That tweet, as well as the brevity of Templeton's investigation
, plays a significant role in her lawsuit
According to the lawsuit, “the May 26, 2020 statement was intended to and had the effect of conveying that Franklin Templeton had conducted a thorough and fair investigation, and that the result of the investigation was the conclusion that Plaintiff was a racist.”
Cooper claims she called the cops because she was "frightened to death
" after being targeted by "an overzealous birdwatcher engaged in Central Park's ongoing feud between birdwatchers and dog owners."
According to the lawsuit, Franklin Templeton would have discovered this if it had conducted a "legitimate investigation," but instead it "perpetuated and legitimized the story of 'Karen' vs. an innocent African American to its perceived advantage."
According to Reuters, the lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for defamation
, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and racial and gender
discrimination, in addition to the defamation complaint.
On Wednesday, the company issued a statement in which it defended its actions.
“We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves, and that the Company responded appropriately,” Franklin Templeton said in an emailed statement Wednesday, adding, “We will defend against these groundless claims.”
Prosecutors dropped their case against Cooper, who was charged with one count of filing a false report, in February after she completed five sessions of an educational program that included racial bias training.