The city of Atlanta has settled a lawsuit with former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran for $1.2 million. A Federal District Court ruled in December 2017 that the city’s policies which led to Cochran’s termination were unconstitutional, according to Life Site News.
Cochran was fired by former Mayor Kasim Reed in January 2015 for expressing biblical views on marriage in his 2013 devotional book “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”
Reed claimed he fired Cochran because the chief violated policy by promoting the book on the job but the former Fire Chief saw the firing as an attack on his free speech, which led him to file a federal lawsuit against the city.
“Given my history and work throughout my career and with the city of Atlanta, I was shocked that writing a book and encouraging Christian men to be the husbands and fathers and men that God had called us to be, would jeopardize my 34-year career,” Cochran said.
The book was viewed as anti-gay, by some, and something that could create a hostile work environment. Openly gay City Council Member Alex Wan opposed the book, “First and foremost, I respect each individual’s right to have their own thoughts, beliefs and opinions, but when you’re a city employee, and those thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city’s, you have to check them at the door,” Wan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Cochran was suspended for 30 days without pay in November 2014, while an investigation into his treatment of employees began. After interviews with multiple firefighters it was determined there was no mistreatment of any kind, Cochran was still terminated.
The $1.2 million settlement comes after a three-year legal battle.
In a press release, Senior Council Kevin Theriot of the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF), whose attorneys represented Cochran, said, "The government can't force its employees to get its permission before they engage in free speech. It also can't fire them for exercising that First Amendment freedom, causing them to lose both their freedom and their livelihoods. We are very pleased that the city is compensating Chief Cochran as it should, and we hope this will serve as a deterrent to any government that would trample upon the constitutionally protected freedoms of its public servants."
You can take a lot at Kelvin Cochran’s story below:
H/T: Life Site News