Franklin Templeton fires staffer after park video goes viral

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The video of an altercation on Monday between a white female executive and a black man in Central Park went viral almost immediately. Within 24 hours, the woman was out of a job.

The woman, an employee of Franklin Templeton, is seen calling the police on her mobile phone saying “there is an African American man, I am in Central Park. He is recording me, and threatening myself and my dog.” The man had earlier asked her to leash her dog in the wooded area of the park, called the Ramble, according to his account.

The incident underscores the nature of race relations in the U.S., in which African-Americans have faced outbursts — and worse — while simply going about their business. It also demonstrates that companies are increasingly holding employees accountable even for behavior that occurs outside the office.

“We’re living in chaos and predictable responses are going out the window,” said Davia Temin, founder of New York City crisis consultancy Temin and Co. “What wisdom would tell you, is to just walk away. But that usually takes a less stressful environment, and right now all the ions are charged.”

On Monday, Franklin Templeton placed the woman, Amy Cooper, the firm’s head of insurance investment, on leave. By Tuesday afternoon, they fired her over the episode.

White advisors need to talk about race
It has taken me eight years of conscious work to be able to discuss this topic so frankly.

“Following our internal review of the incident in Central Park yesterday, we have made the decision to terminate the employee involved, effective immediately,” a spokeswoman for the company said in a statement. “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.”

In the video posted on Facebook, the woman takes out her phone and says she will tell the police there is “an African American man threatening my life.” The man, Christian Cooper, is taping her on his phone.

In a statement issued on Tuesday after she was fired, Amy Cooper expressed regret over the incident.

“I want to apologize to Chris Cooper for my actions when I encountered him in Central Park yesterday,” she said. “I reacted emotionally and made false assumptions about his intentions when, in fact, I was the one who was acting inappropriately by not having my dog on a leash.”

Cooper added that she was “well aware of the pain that misassumptions and insensitive statements about race cause” and never imagined she would be involved in such an incident.

Christian Cooper could not be reached for comment.

“I videotaped it because I thought it was important to document things,” he said, according to CNN. “Unfortunately we live in an era with things like Ahmaud Arbery, where black men are seen as targets. This woman thought she could exploit that to her advantage, and I wasn’t having it.”

Some took to Twitter to applaud Franklin Templeton’s decision, and encouraged the firm to assess her record of potential workplace discrimination.

Franklin Templeton declined to comment beyond its public statement.

Central Park rules state that dogs must be leashed at all times in the Ramble.

Franklin Resources is the parent of Franklin Templeton.

Bloomberg News
Diversity and equality Racial Bias Franklin Templeton Asset managers Employee relations
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