Canadian woman known as ‘Central Park Karen’ loses lawsuit over expulsion

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(Bloomberg) — A woman named Central Park Karen has lost a lawsuit against Franklin Resources, claiming her former employer unfairly called her racist and fired her after she was caught on video confronting and calling police as black. bird watcher;

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Amy Cooper sued the company, widely known as Franklin Templeton, in May 2021, claiming it had posted the incident on Twitter and falsely claiming that it conducted an investigation before being fired. US District Judge Ronnie Abrams on Wednesday dropped the lawsuit, dismissing her allegations of racial and sexual discrimination and defamation.

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A video posted to Twitter by birdwatcher sister Christian Cooper in 2020 – unrelated to Amy – showed the woman calling 911, complaining that an African American man was threatening her and her dog. Amy Cooper made the call after Christian Cooper asked her to leash her dog in Central Park. The video went viral, garnering more than 40 million views, during a national discourse on systemic racism.

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Cooper argued that the encounter became “international news as a racial flashpoint” and misrepresented her as a distinctly white woman because Franklin Templeton cited the incident on Twitter. But the judge rejected the claim.

“The Central Park incident coincided exactly with the date of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, an event that similarly sparked intense nationwide rhetoric on issues of racial justice and policing,” Abrams wrote. “The contents of the viral video, as well as the dialogue surrounding it in both media and social media, were already matters of public interest when the defendants’ tweet was posted on May 26.”

Cooper’s attorneys did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the decision.

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Cooper referred to three male employees she said were treated better after engaging in similar behaviour, but Abrams said this comparison does not apply because the misconduct they engaged in, “which spans from plagiarism to insider trading to a felony conviction — is simply different. Sort of so that it can’t be compared to her behavior in this case.”

The judge also dismissed Cooper’s allegations of defamation over a company tweet that said it fired her after an internal review and “has no tolerance for racism of any kind,” as well as a comment from CEO Jenny Johnson in an interview about the incident. Abrams said that any suggestion from the tweet that Cooper is racist is an opinion and that the statement does not indicate that the company considered any information not already known to the public.

Franklin Templeton said in a statement that he was pleased with the court’s agreement that the allegations should be dismissed and that it still believed the company had responded appropriately.

The case is Cooper v Franklin Templeton, 21-cv-4692, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

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