Cochran v. City of AtlantaTo book an interview, click on the "Book an Interview" button on any page at ADFmedia.org.
Monday, March 07, 2016
Description: The city and mayor of Atlanta terminated the employment of Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran because of his Christian faith and beliefs. Mayor Kasim Reed first suspended Cochran for 30 days and announced that he would have to complete “sensitivity training” after activists who don’t agree with the fire chief’s Christian views on sex complained about a men’s devotional book Cochran had written on his personal time. Biblical sexual morality is mentioned only briefly in the 162-page book. After an investigation that included interviews with employees found Cochran did not discriminate against anyone, the mayor fired him anyway – citing as his basis, ironically, the need to tolerate diverse views.
Court allows lawsuit of unjustly fired fire chief to go forward against city of AtlantaADF attorneys represent Kelvin Cochran
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
At oral arguments in October before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Cochran v. City of Atlanta, ADF argued that the city’s arguments themselves confirm Cochran’s claim that the city fired him for holding and expressing religious beliefs city officials didn’t like.
“A religious or ideological test cannot be used to fire a public servant, but the city did exactly that, as the evidence and facts of this case clearly demonstrate,” said ADF Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot, who argued before the court. “We look forward to proceeding with this case because of the injustice against Chief Cochran, one of the most accomplished fire chiefs in the nation, but also because the city’s actions place every city employee in jeopardy who may hold to a belief that city officials don’t like.”
“Tolerance must apply to people of different viewpoints, not just those who agree with the beliefs the government prefers,” added ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. “Americans don’t surrender their constitutionally protected freedoms when they become public servants.”
After activists who don’t agree with Cochran’s Christian views on sex and marriage complained about a brief mention of the topics in a 162-page book Cochran had written on his personal time, Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran for 30 days without pay and announced that he would have to complete “sensitivity training.” Reed then fired him, even though a city investigation concluded that he did not discriminate against anyone. Public statements Reed and City Councilman Alex Wan made late last year confirm the truth about why the city fired Cochran.
“I want to be clear that the material in Chief Cochran’s book is not representative of my personal beliefs and is inconsistent with the administration’s work to make Atlanta a more welcoming city for all citizens…,” Reed said in November of last year to explain why he suspended Cochran.
That same month, Wan told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “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.”
Reed recounted in his 2014 State of the City Address that he “begged” Cochran to return to Atlanta in 2010 from his job as U.S. fire administrator in the Obama administration. Cochran agreed, and the city council confirmed him to serve a second time as the city’s fire chief, a job Cochran originally held from 2008 to 2009.
In 2012, Fire Chief Magazine named Cochran “Fire Chief of the Year.” In a city news release issued about the award, Reed thanked Cochran for his “pioneering efforts to improve performance and service within the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department,” applauded “Chief Cochran and all of Atlanta’s brave firefighters for the commitment to excellence shown throughout the department,” and recognized that Cochran’s “national recognition” as Fire Chief of the Year was “much-deserved.”
- Pronunciation guide: Theriot (TEHR’-ee-oh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
Additional resources: Cochran v. City of AtlantaScroll down to view additional resources pertaining to this case and its surrounding issue.
Monday, March 07, 2016
Previous news releases:
- 2015-10-13: ADF to court: Atlanta must be held accountable for unjustly firing fire chief
- 2015-04-09: ADF extinguishes Atlanta’s arguments in defense of discrimination against fire chief
- 2015-03-26: Atlanta’s desperate defense of discrimination still deficient
- 2015-02-18: Fire chief sues city of Atlanta over unjust termination
- 2015-02-17: New developments concerning fired Atlanta fire chief
- 2015-01-14: City, mayor of Atlanta playing with constitutional fire
- Kevin Theriot: Reinstate Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran (FOX News, 2015-02-25)
Legal documents, related news, and other related resources available in the right panel when this page is viewed at ADFmedia.org.