Tuesday, September 28News That Matters

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The Guardian

Woman sues employer who fired her for calling police on Black birdwatcher

Amy Cooper, who said Christian Cooper was ‘threatening her life’, is accusing the company of falsely portraying her as racist Amy Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black bird-watcher, claiming he had threatened her life. Photograph: Christian Cooper/AP Amy Cooper, the white woman who falsely told police that Black birdwatcher Christian Cooper had threatened her in New York City’s Central Park, is suing her employer for false dismissal. In a complaint filed on Tuesday night in Manhattan federal court obtained by Reuters, Cooper claims she was fired by her former employer, the financial advisory firm Franklin Templeton, without proper investigation of the incident and accused the company of falsely portraying her as racist. In the complaint, Cooper said the company’s actions’ “caused her such severe emotional distress that she was suicidal”. She is seeking unspecified damages for race and gender discrimination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, according to Reuters. On 25 May 2020, Cooper claimed in a call to police that there had been “an African American man threatening my life”, after the birdwatcher advised her that unleashed dogs were not permitted in that area of the park. Christian Cooper, who is not related to her, posted a video of the interaction on Facebook that has been viewed 45m times. Franklin Templeton fired Amy Cooper the next day, and she was later charged with filing a false police report. Christian Cooper said he would not cooperate in her prosecution. “I think it’s a mistake to focus on this one individual,” Cooper wrote in the Washington Post. “The important thing the incident highlights is the longstanding, deep-seated racial bias against us Black and brown folk that permeates the United States.” Charges against the woman were dropped earlier this year after she completed five therapy sessions that focused on not using racial identities “to harm ourselves or others”. Christian Cooper responded to that decision, saying that the incident paled in comparison with other widely seen incidents of white people calling police on Black people without cause. He pointed to the circumstances of Washington DC, a city with majority non-white population of not achieving statehood. “That gross racial injustice could be fixed by Congress now, today, and that’s what people should be focused on – not last year’s events in Central Park,” he said. Reuters contributed to this report