By Aimee Picchi | CBS News
Amy Cooper, the White woman who became known as “Central Park Karen” after calling 911 to claim that a Black birdwatcher had threatened her, lost a lawsuit alleging her former employer had engaged in racist and sexist behavior when it fired her after the incident.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams on Wednesday rejected Cooper’s claims that employer Franklin Templeton had unjustly fired and defamed her. The investment firm dismissed Cooper in May 2020, shortly after the widely publicized Central Park incident. The firm tweeted about her termination on May 26, 2020, saying “We do not tolerate racism of any kind.”
In May 2021, Cooper sued Franklin Templeton, alleging both racial and gender discrimination in her termination.
The judge rejected those claims in a 17-page ruling on Wednesday. In the lawsuit, Cooper had claimed that Franklin Templeton had treated her differently than three male employees who had engaged in misconduct ranging from insider trading to domestic violence. But Abrams ruled the cases weren’t similar enough to prove bias, partly given that Cooper herself described her own incident as “international news as a racial flashpoint.”
Cooper “cannot plausibly allege that she was subjected to a ‘company-wide double standard’ merely by identifying three male comparators who engaged in some — other — form of misconduct, but were not similarly fired,” Abrams wrote.
“Actions taken outside the workplace can have a direct and immediate impact on a person’s employment status. While an individual act may seem isolated, in a world where almost every phone has a camera and publication to social media is just a click away, it can immediately become the topic of discussion. Employers are entitled to reasonably protect themselves and their reputations from the conduct of their employees, even when they are not at work. Having clear employment policies allows for swift action to address inappropriate behavior that could negatively impact the company.”
–Tony Freeman, Rose Law Group Senior Counsel