Former Atlanta Fire Chief Cochran’s federal case moves forward

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran’s wrongful termination case against the city of Atlanta is moving forward in federal court.

In a Dec. 16 order, United States District Judge Leigh Martin May denied the city of Atlanta’s motion to dismiss the case outright. May agreed, however, to toss four of the nine counts brought by the former fire chief against the city.

At issue is whether the city of Atlanta and Reed violated Cochran’s constitutional rights when he was ousted in January 2015 following an investigation into his Christian guide for men, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?” The 162-page book, which Cochran distributed to some members of the fire department, caused an outcry because of a passage in which he described both homosexuality and bestiality as “unclean” acts.

Cochran — who quickly became the focus of a national fight over religious liberty — believes he was fired because of his faith. His case was taken up by the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf.

In an October hearing, ADF attorneys argued that Cochran’s constitutional rights — including freedom of speech and free exercise of religion — were violated. Atlanta attorneys argued that his personal views were irrelevant until he brought them into the workplace. Once he did, they said, it became an employment matter because Cochran broke city protocols.

In a Dec. 30 response, Atlanta attorneys say they acted in a good faith and didn’t deprive Cochran of his constitutional rights.

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