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‘Central Park Karen’ Loses Lawsuit Accusing Former Employer of Discriminating Against Her for Being a White Woman

Amy Cooper yanks her dog's leash while calling the police.

In May of 2020, a woman named Amy Cooper became the latest white woman to shoot to internet superstardom thanks to cell phone footage making her racism go viral. Cooper, you might remember, was walking her dog off-leash in an area of Central Park where that’s not permitted, and when confronted by Christian Cooper (no relation), a Black birdwatcher, she chose to feign hysteria in a 911 call, falsely telling police he was threatening her.

Video of the encounter quickly went mega-viral and earned Cooper the moniker “Central Park Karen.” She lost her job and she even had her dog temporarily taken away due to the way she seemed to be yanking it around in the footage. But Christian Cooper declined to press charges so ultimately, things could have been a lot worse.

Nonetheless, Amy Cooper decided to file a lawsuit against her former employer, investment firm Franklin Templeton, accusing the company of discriminating against her based on her race and gender. Yup, Cooper claimed she was fired for being a white woman.

Cooper claimed Franklin Templeton’s investigation into her actions wasn’t thorough, and that they caused her harm when they tweeted their condemnation of her. “Franklin Templeton perpetuated and legitimized the story of ‘Karen’ vs. an innocent African American to its perceived advantage, with reckless disregard for the destruction of Plaintiff’s life in the process,” her complaint reads.

Last week, more than a year after Cooper filed that suit, US District Judge Ronnie Abrams threw it out.

Abrams noted in her decision that the video of Cooper went viral the same week as George Floyd’s murder, and therefore became part of “intense discourse nationwide on issues of racial justice and policing.” As such, she wrote, “The contents of the viral video, as well as the dialogue surrounding it both in the media and on social media, were already matters of public knowledge when defendants’ May 26 tweet was posted.”

Furthermore, Abrams dismissed Cooper’s claims that her male colleagues did not receive such harsh punishment for similar actions on the grounds that the instances she cited weren’t actually similar at all. Those men did not weaponize their whiteness to put a Black man’s safety at risk and go viral in the process. Instead, their behavior, “which runs the gamut from plagiarism to insider trading to a felony conviction,” writes Abrams, “is simply too different in kind to be comparable to her conduct in this case.”

As for Christian Cooper, he’s just over here thriving:

(via Bloomberg, image: Christian Cooper)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.