Amy Cooper, a white woman who was fired from her job after she called 911 to a black birdwatcher in Central Park alleging he threatened and tried to attack her, has lost a discrimination lawsuit against his former employer.
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled Wednesday that Cooper’s claims against investment firm Franklin Templeton are not substantial. In a 17-page ruling, Abrams rejected Cooper’s claims of race and sex discrimination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
“We’re pleased the court dismissed the lawsuit. We continue to believe the company responded appropriately,” Franklin Templeton told USA TODAY.
In May 2021, Cooper sued Franklin Templeton, alleging that the company wrongfully fired her without conducting an internal investigation and that he had made defamatory statements against her on social media.
Abrams ruled that the act of viewing a video of the incident and discussing Cooper’s conduct “would meet a reasonable interpretation of ‘internal review'” and that “an allegation of bigotry is a protected statement of opinion, rather than a defamatory statement of fact capable of being proven true or false”.
The company announced Cooper’s termination on Twitter, saying “We do not tolerate racism of any kind,” shortly after a May 2020 video of Cooper went viral.
CENTRAL PARK VIRAL VIDEO:Bird watcher on woman who called police over viral Central Park dog dispute: ‘I had nothing to do with it’
In the video, Cooper was walking his dog in the Ramble, a section of Central Park that requires dogs to be on a leash, when Christian Cooper, a black bird watcher who is not related to Amy Cooper, asked him to leash his pet .
Cooper reports a 911 call alleging that a man named Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, had threatened her life. The incident happened in the Ramble, a wooded area in Central Park where dogs must be on a leash. The man who had been birdwatching asked Cooper to leash his dog in the park.
As their exchange escalated on Memorial Day 2020, Amy Cooper called 911 and reported “an African-American male … threatening me and my dog.” Christian Cooper, meanwhile, began filming Amy Cooper’s actions.
The video posted on social media garnered millions of views that day. The incident happened on the same day that George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis by Derek Chauvin, the white police officer who knelt on his neck and was convicted of murder last month.
Charges were dropped against Amy Cooper last year after she completed a psychoeducation and therapy program focused on racial equity.
In her lawsuit, filed in federal court, Amy Cooper alleges that Franklin Templeton’s actions allowed her to be “characterized as a privileged white woman ‘Karen’ caught on video verbally abusing an African-American man for no other reason possible that the color of his skin.” The lawsuit said the woman was motivated primarily by fear during the exchange, not race.
AMY COOPER CASE:White Central Park woman called 911 a second time on black bird watcher, prosecutors say
Amy Cooper also claimed that the company favored three male employees who had engaged in misconduct, including insider trading and domestic violence, and that their dismissal was unfair. But Abrams ruled that the cases were not similar and could not prove bias.
“Plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the adequacy of defendants’ investigation, even if objectively justified, is insufficient to support an inference of discrimination,” Abrams wrote in the opinion.
An attorney for Cooper did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment Thursday.
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY