MBA In Central Park Racism Incident Sues Employer Over Firing

Chicago Booth MBA Amy Cooper was caught on video last May falsely accusing a stranger of threatening her life

The MBA who was captured on video last year threatening to call police on a Black man who asked her to leash her dog in New York City’s Central Park is suing her former employer for firing her in the wake of the incident.

Global investment firm Franklin Templeton fired Amy Cooper in May 2020 after a video went viral of her calling the police on a Black birdwatcher with whom she argued while walking her dog in Central Park. Now Cooper, against whom a misdemeanor charge was initially filed by prosecutors before being dropped earlier this year, is suing the multinational holding company in federal court in Manhattan, saying Franklin Templeton wrongly characterized the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Class of 2009 MBA as racist and falsely claimed it conducted an investigation before firing her.

According to a May 26 report in Bloomberg Law, Amy Cooper told the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in a lawsuit filed Tuesday (May 25) that the May 25, 2020, incident “was spurred by her fear of the birdwatcher, Christian Cooper, who she says had a history of ‘aggressively confronting’ dog owners for walking their dogs off-leash.” Amy Cooper says Christian Cooper’s “aggressive manner” caused her “to reasonably fear” for the safety of her and her pet, which is why she called the police. “Franklin Templeton would have known that if had performed the investigation it told the public it had conducted, she said,” according to the Bloomberg report.


Amy Cooper was a vice president and head of investment solutions for the global investment firm when the video of her confrontation with Christian Cooper was first posted to Twitter. It caught fire, racking up tens of millions of views in part because of the tense racial atmosphere in the U.S. — the incident occurred the same day as the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis that sparked protests nationwide.

In the video, Amy Cooper initially refused to put her dog on a leash, instead threatening the 57-year-old Christian Cooper, a Harvard graduate who works in communications. She screamed that she would call the police to falsely report that he was putting her life in jeopardy. “I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”

Then, when she was on the line to the police department, she nervously shouted, “There is an African-American man. I am in Central Park. He is recording me and threatening myself and my dog.” Then, despite no apparent movement or threat from Christian Cooper, she brought her voice to a higher pitch. “I’m being threatened by a man in the Ramble!” she cried into the phone. “Please send the cops immediately!” The video sparked a national debate about the police being falsely called on Black people, sometimes putting their lives in danger.

Prosecutors originally charged Amy Cooper with a misdemeanor, but a judge agreed to dismiss the charge after she completed an education program that included racial bias instruction.


According to her now-deleted LinkedIn profile, Cooper had worked at Franklin since 2015. The profile described her as the leader of “the insurance portfolio management and strategy business at Franklin Templeton. She has dedicated her career to delivering and executing investment solutions for insurance and pension companies globally. … She is a recognized industry leader in insurance accounting and regulatory issues, asset-liability management, and strategic asset allocation. She has worked in a variety of insurance-focused roles.”

In her lawsuit against her former employer, she says she has suffered emotional distress and her “personal and professional life has been destroyed,” Bloomberg reports. She says Franklin Templeton “failed to seek the minutes of New York City Park Board meetings predating Christian Cooper’s attack on her that would have detailed his prior aggression towards dog owners and his statement to the board,” and also “never tried to obtain the full versions of her 9-1-1 calls to the New York City Police Department.” Instead Franklin “broadcast her firing on Twitter in terms that implied she is a racist,” and CEO Jenny Johnson “gave widely viewed interviews to multiple media outlets that suggested Franklin Templeton had done a full and fair investigation and that the facts of the incident were undisputed.”

Cooper adds that “Franklin Templeton would have conducted a proper investigation before firing her if she was of a different race or a different gender.”

Responding to a request for comment about the lawsuit over her firing, Franklin Templeton told Bloomberg Law her claims were “baseless.” “We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately,” the company said by email. “We will defend against these baseless claims.”


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