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Franklin Templeton Asks Court to Dismiss Suit by Woman in NYC Birdwatcher Case

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What You Need to Know

  • Amy Cooper's 911 call occurred on May 25, 2020. The next day Franklin Templeton fired the portfolio manager.
  • Cooper sued the firm a year later charging that the firm discriminated against her because of her race and gender.
  • Franklin Templeton's motion to dismiss says Cooper's lawsuit is

Franklin Templeton has filed a motion to dismiss the wrongful termination lawsuit brought by  by its former portfolio manager Amy Cooper.

The firm fired Cooper, who is white, a day after she called 911 in May 2020 to report an “African American man … threatening [her] life” when the man, birdwatcher Christian Cooper (no relation), videotaped her in Central Park after she failed to leash her dog as required by park rules. The video went viral.

Cooper apologized later that day and the next for making “false assumptions” about Mr. Cooper’s intention and admitted that she “was the one who was acting inappropriately” by not having her dog on a leash.

Franklin Templeton said it fired the 40-year-old portfolio manager following an internal review because it did “not tolerate racism of any kind.”

Cooper was subsequently charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for filing a false police report. Those charges were eventually dropped after she completed a counseling program, but in May of this year Cooper filed a lawsuit in federal district court for the Southern District of New York, claiming that Franklin Templeton had discriminated against her because of her race and gender.

The suit said the firm had not conducted a thorough investigation of the incident before her firing even though its CEO, Jenny Johnson, gave media interviews saying that it had. It also charged that the firing had caused Cooper severe emotional distress, in part because the firm’s phone system allegedly provided her cell phone number to people who subsequently made threatening calls.

Franklin Templeton’s motion to dismiss Cooper’s lawsuit noted that its discrimination claims  “are devoid of any facts to plausibly suggest that she was discriminated against, or treated unfairly in any way, much less because of her race or sex.”

It also noted that the suit lacked facts supporting its claims that the firm was “negligent in having a telephone system that purportedly ‘provided [her] personal cell phone number’ to the public” and that such a claim is “fatally flawed” because the exclusive remedy for such a charge is covered by the New York Workers’ Compensation Law.

(Image: Shutterstock)