An ex-Atlanta fire chief has been awarded a $1.2 million settlement after being fired for writing a book about his Christian faith.
The Atlanta City Council approved the enormous financial compensation to be paid to Kelvin Cochran following a protracted legal battle which began when Cochran was suspended in 2015 after writing a book expressing biblical views on sexuality.
Cochran alleged that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed discriminated against him after he released the book,”Who Told You That You Were Naked?” which reportedly called homosexuality “sexual perversion” and even compared it to “bestiality.” Reed argued that the termination of Cochran’s employment was based not on the contents of the book, but on the ex-fire chief not receiving the adequate permission he required to write and publish it.
“I, too, am a person of very deep religious faith … 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, ‘Let all things be done decently and in order’ and I want to make very clear in my judgment that was not done here,” Reed said in 2015, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Chief Cochran’s book … was published in violation of the city’s standards of conduct, which require prior approval of the ethics officer and the board of ethics.”
According to WAGA-TV, Reed also argued that Cochran had violated policy by promoting the book on the job. Cochran subsequently filed a federal lawsuit, claiming that the city had violated his free speech and due process rights, and also that his reputation had been left in tatters as a result of the department’s accusations.
As Faithwire previously reported, Judge Leigh May of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled that these pre-approval rules could constrain free speech and said that the city didn’t define the standards that would be used to determine whether an employee had indeed engaged in a conflict of interest.
In light of the final payout, the ex-chief was elated, despite still being confused by the criticism he faced at the hands of city officials on account of his religious beliefs.
“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,” he said after the settlement was agreed upon.