In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Cooper claims that Franklin Templeton, where she worked as an insurance portfolio manager, unfairly labeled her a racist and what would then be characterized as Central Park "Karen," a privileged white female attacking someone because of their skin color.
"This characterization was created and nurtured, in whole or in part, by the public statements published by the Defendants (Franklin Templeton)", the suit states. She alleged her former employer instigated it by announcing to "millions of people" that their investigation "determined indisputably that Plaintiff was a racist, and that due to the results of their legitimate investigation, the Plaintiff’s employment with the Defendants was terminated."
Cooper's suit states Franklin Templeton "never performed" an investigation and that their "alleged" results justified the "Karen" story. Her attorney Matthew Litt argued that it "appeared to provide justification for those who sought the destruction of the Plaintiff’s life."
In a statement, Franklin Templeton told FOX Business, "We believe the circumstances of the situation speak for themselves and that the Company responded appropriately. We will defend against these baseless claims."
On May 25, 2020, Cooper was caught on a viral video saying: "I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life," after the bird watcher told her that unleashed dogs were not allowed in that area of the park. She was fired the next day.
Cooper was then charged with falsely reporting an incident, but the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office dropped their criminal case this last February after she completed therapy sessions. At the time, Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon had said the office was satisfied with Cooper’s participation in the "restorative justice solution." The prosecutor stressed that such outcomes are standard for first-time offenders facing misdemeanor charges.
Cooper said her personal and professional life have been destroyed and that her former company’s "actions caused her such severe emotional distress that she was suicidal." Cooper is seeking unspecified damages to be determined at trial, namely for back pay and bonus, emotional distress, and interest and punitive damages for race and gender discrimination, and defamation.