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The Central Park Incident from an Employment Perspective

In response to the notorious recent incident in Central Park between Franklin Templeton employee Amy Cooper and Chris Cooper (no relation), Franklin Templeton immediately terminated Ms. Cooper’s employment. While some applaud Franklin Templeton’s swift and decisive response as a model for other corporate legal and PR departments facing a sudden crisis, others, including Mr. Cooper, are not so sure.

The incident in question occurred on Memorial Day and the video tape of it was posted at about 1 p.m. that day, quickly going viral. Franklin Templeton issued its first response at 10:43 p.m., with the statement, “We take these matters very seriously, and we do not condone racism of any kind. While we are in the process of investigating the situation, the employee involved has been put on administrative leave.” This initial statement drew widespread criticism as Twitter users called for Ms. Cooper, who held the position of head of insurance portfolio management, to be fired. Franklin Templeton issued a second statement the day after the incident at 2:24 p.m., advising that following an internal review, Ms. Cooper had been fired, and again stated that, “We do not tolerate racism of any kind at Franklin Templeton.” Twitter users reacted favorably to this statement.

Meanwhile, Ms. Cooper issued an apology stating, "I am not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way." For his part, Mr. Cooper has called for civility. According to the New York Times, Mr. Cooper stated, “It’s a little bit of a frenzy, and I am uncomfortable with that. If our goal is to change the underlying factors, I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”