Amy Cooper, a white woman who became known asafter calling 911 to report that a black bird watcher had threatened her, lost a lawsuit that claimed her former employer engaged in racist and sexist behavior when he fired her after the incident.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams on Wednesday dismissed Cooper’s claims that her employer, Franklin Templeton, unfairly fired her and defamed her. Investment firmin May 2020, shortly after the highly publicized incident in Central Park. On May 26, 2020, the firm tweeted about her firing, saying, “We do not tolerate racism of any kind.”
Cooper in May 2021Franklin Templeton, stating racial and gender discrimination in ending it.
A judge rejected those claims in a 17-page ruling on Wednesday. In the lawsuit, Cooper alleged that Franklin Templeton treated her differently than three male employees who engaged in wrongdoing ranging from insider trading to domestic violence. But Abrams felt the cases were not similar enough to prove bias, in part because Cooper herself described her incident as “international news as a racial flashpoint.”
Cooper “cannot plausibly argue that a ‘company-wide double standard’ was applied to her simply by identifying three male comparators who engaged in some — other — form of misconduct but were not fired in the same manner,” Abrams wrote.
Attorneys for Cooper did not respond to requests for comment.
In her lawsuit, Cooper said she was an “exceptional employee” at the company, where she worked from 2015 until she was fired in 2020. The document said she received performance bonuses in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Cooper said her termination resulted in a “substantial loss of wages and benefits.” Her claim alleged that Franklin Templeton should provide her with “back wages and bonuses, loss of uninvested funds and other benefits, back pay or reinstatement, emotional distress, attorneys’ fees and costs, and interest and punitive damages in the amount of , which will be determined in court.”
Did not meet the defamation threshold
Abrams said that Franklin Templeton’s statements about Cooper, such as his tweet that “we do not tolerate racism,” did not meet the threshold of defamation, in part because the comments did not imply that they knew anything more than they already did available to the public. a meeting
“The incident received intense media and public attention, particularly because it occurred ‘in the midst of a national reckoning with systemic racism,'” the judge wrote, noting that Cooper’s incident occurred on the same day as the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. .
She added: “The content of the viral video, as well as the dialogue surrounding it in both the media and social media, was already a matter of public opinion when [Franklin Templeton’s] A tweet was published on May 26.”
In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Franklin Templeton said, “We are pleased that the court dismissed the lawsuit. We still believe that the company responded appropriately.”
The incident occurred because Cooper called the police after a black birdwatcher in Central Park, Christian Cooper (no relation to Amy Cooper), asked her to leash her dog in a part of the park where a leash is required.
In response, she called 911 and repeatedly identified Christian Cooper by his race, demanding that the dispatcher “send the police immediately” and falsely accusing him of threatening her life. Christian Cooper captured the verbal altercation on video, which went viral and became part of a national debate about race during the Black Lives Matter movement that was sparked by Floyd’s murder.