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Op-Ed: Remember the 'Karen' Who Called the Cops on a Black Birdwatcher? She Might Get the Last Laugh

Western Journal



To say that Amy Cooper is a pathetic character, in the literary sense, would be right on.

In what social media dubbed the ultimate Karen moment, after a deeply problematic meme, Cooper was charged for filing a false report a year ago after a 911 call to the NYPD to falsely complain that a birdwatcher was threatening her. While the charges were eventually dismissed, Cooper was quickly fired by her employer.

Yet at the end of May, Cooper, formerly an investment portfolio manager at Franklin Templeton, filed a lawsuit against the company, asserting that its CEO, Jenny Johnson, and other unnamed employees “had been negligent, discriminatory and defamatory in their treatment of the case and her subsequent termination,” according to Human Resources Director America.

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As part of her claim, she is seeking lost salary, as well as emotional and punitive damages, for what she has characterized as “emotional and mental anguish.”

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Cooper was fired less than 24 hours after the incident came to light through a viral video that became one of the most significant social memes of the past few years.

Franklin Templeton’s position has remained consistent from the onset: We don’t tolerate racism, we did an internal review of the situation and we think our termination of this employee was appropriate.

Clearly, the company has no choice but to remain consistent in its position, and it may not be wrong in having terminated Cooper. But maybe this isn’t as linear as it appears to be. While social media can cancel anyone they want at any time, cancel culture doesn’t legally extend to the workplace.

Michael Epstein, a lawyer based outside New York City, explains that in New York, the law is more complex for some employees than others:

“New York is an at-will employment state. Yet for employees who have a contract, if the termination violates the terms set forth in that contract, which may include an obligation of the employer giving proper notice, the terminated employee may have a case.”

Aside from the notice provision, the company is going to need to show that its actions with Cooper definitely met a company (and perhaps met an industry) standard. Franklin Templeton needs to demonstrate that it was acting in good faith, actually did a thorough investigation and (here is a critically important point) can demonstrate that it has acted similarly with other employees.

There is no legal requirement that a company conduct investigations at the level that state prosecutors do, though. The law does not require a company to act perfectly in terminating an employee; it just needs to be acting in good faith.

There is a lot to unpack here, beginning with how Franklin Templeton has treated similarly situated employees. That’s going to be a little difficult here given the egregious nature of Cooper’s actions, captured on video and made public to the entire world through the often dark magic of social media.

But if Cooper has evidentiary support for a claim that she was indeed treated differently than other similarly situated employees, it could begin to pull Jenga pieces out of what appears at the moment to be a well-fortified Franklin Templeton legal position.

A lingering question is why Franklin Templeton needed to dismiss Cooper so quickly.

Was it actually possible to complete an investigation in one day, or was a large company reacting to a social media powderkeg by pouring milk on it rather than lighting a match by launching a broader, more granular investigation that would have not only taken significantly longer but also been met with a public outcry if the company chose to, for example, place her on temporary leave?

We may learn that Franklin Templeton didn’t wait solely because it feared the wrath of social media.

We may learn that the company felt that it needed to balance doing the politically expedient thing with the legally expedient one, perhaps erring a bit on the side of assuaging an angry social media mob that was not only out to get Cooper, but could have quickly turned on Franklin Templeton in a second if the company hadn’t acted as quickly and decisively as it did.

All of these questions will be answered if Cooper’s lawyers actually filed a suit that can make it over any initial procedural hurdles. While critics have been quick to call her lawsuit baseless, what is clear is that the intensity of the outrage of the incident has irrevocably changed the trajectory of Cooper’s life.

Christan Cooper, the Central Park birdwatcher at the heart of the story, told NPR that what she did was “pretty crappy without a doubt,” but added “I’m not sure that her one minute of poor decision-making, bad judgment and, without question, racist response necessarily has to define her completely,” which, up until today, it has.

Whether the result of this lawsuit will cement Amy Cooper’s status as an ubervillain of New York or will show that she was treated unfairly by her employer is now a matter of law, not public opinion.

And it will all turn on whether Franklin Templeton followed the right legal procedures or allowed itself to be swayed by outrage rather than reason, as is far too tempting in this deeply vitriolic social media climate.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.


Off-Duty Firefighter Jumped by Mob Who Tell Him It's 'Fight Night' Before Brutal Beating

Western Journal



Asking for a little old-fashioned respect can be the prelude to a beatdown in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City. The New York Post has released video of a Friday night incident in which a rabid mob of teenagers surrounded and then attacked an off-duty firefighter as he walked his dog near his home in the borough of Queens. Republican mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa, who founded the civic protection group the Guardian Angels in 1979, posted the video to Twitter. Warning: The following video contains graphic images and language that some readers will find disturbing. Last night in Middle Village a mob of kids attacked a man who asked them to stop blasting fireworks. #NYPD from the 104th precinct were there but did nothing. The community reached out to #NYC Mayoral candidate #CurtisSliwa & the #GuardianAngels to find these vicious teens — Curtis Sliwa for NYC Mayor (@CurtisSliwa) July 24, 2021 The 44-year-old victim, whose name was not released by the Post, said he is among those who have objected to the deterioration of his community,  and taken the dangerous stand of telling teenagers to behave as if rules really mattered. Retribution for preaching civility arrived Friday night. “There were at least 100 kids … I was walking my dog. They just picked me out and approached me,” the firefighter told the Post in a Saturday interview. “One kid took his shirt off and said, ‘it’s fight night!’ He said he was 19 and said, ‘I could fight you.’ Everyone took their cell phones out. There were cell phones everywhere,” the victim said. “They all came at me…A kid came up behind me and hit me in the back of the head with a bottle and I let go of the dog,” he said. With the dog barking…

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Olympic Cyclist Celebrates Victory as She Crosses the Finish Line, Then Learns a Gold Medal Isn't Coming

Western Journal



Neither the gold medal winner nor the woman who celebrated when she thought she had won could quite believe the results of the women’s Olympic bicycle road race on Sunday. Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten put on a massive gold medal-worthy display of victory as she crossed the finish line. But there was one catch. Anna Keisenhofer of Austria had been so far ahead of the rest of the pack that two minutes before van Vleuten had celebrated her finish, Keisenhofer had already had won the race,  according to Cycling News. Van Vleuten waved her arms in triumph and embraced members of her team, only to learn the truth after someone knowing the facts poured cold water on the celebration. Olympics: Van Vleuten celebrates but mistakes silver for gold #Tokyo2020 — (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 25, 2021 “I didn’t know. I was wrong. I didn’t know,” she said. “This is an example (of what happens) if you ride an important race like this without communication. All World Tour races have communication, and now it’s the three of us standing here and wondering who has actually won,” van Vleuten said, referring to teammates Marianne Vos and Anna van der Breggen, according to CNN. In most races, cyclists are in radio communication with their teams, but that is not allowed in the Olympics. “I’m gutted about that, of course,” she said. Although the realization that she had not won a gold medal hurt, van Vleuten said winning a silver medal remained an achievement. “I’m really proud of the medal, because I did not have an Olympic medal. It’s also a silver medal with a shine on it, because I felt super good today,” said van Vleuten. “My goal was to be at my best-ever level here, and I think I nailed that. It’s…

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